Playing politics with Tennessee’s opioid epidemic hurts everyone

Jennifer E. Engen

Dr. Benjamin Miller

  • Dr. Benjamin Miller is the President of Well Being Trust and the advisory board chair of Inseparable, two of the nation’s leading mental health organizations.

Our state and our nation is struggling with a crisis that lurks below the surface of everyday life, mostly out of sight impacting Tennesseans from Memphis to Knoxville. I’m talking about the opioid crisis, which killed 3,032 of our fellow Tennesseans in 2020 and over 100,000 Americans last year, costing the nation a staggering $1 trillion annually. 

Last week, while taking well-intentioned steps to address the addiction crisis, President Biden became the target of controversy regarding federal funding for clean smoking kits after a high-pressure conservative media campaign (rooted in misinformation, partisan scandalmongering and old-fashioned race-baiting) pushed the narrative that the administration was spending $30 million to purchase and distribute crack pipes to American citizens. 

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