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Former Tennessee Gov. Bredesen visits ETSU for opioid round table

Former Tenn. Gov. Phil Bredesen visits ETSU for opioid round table

Largely credited with making the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy a reality, Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, now a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, came back to ETSU looking for answers from those leading the fight against the opioid epidemic.

"I wanted to come here and just learn about this from the experts," Bredesen said. "I'm really glad that Tennessee has something of this quality. The stuff they're doing here should be widely known across the nation."

Representatives from ETSU encouraged Bredesen to support prevention, intervention and treatment programs, like the Overmountain Recovery methadone clinic in Gray, should he be elected to the U.S. Senate.

Angela Hagaman is at the forefront of ETSU's research into addiction and treatment strategies as the program director of the Diversity-Promoting Institutions Drug Abuse Research Program. She says the strength and independence of our region often keep people from seeking the help they need.

"Then there's the other side of the coin, is this a disease or is this a decision? And that is often the conversation that we have," Hagaman told WCYB. "Really having the conversation that this is a disease. It's not a moral failing; it's not a decision. No one wants to end up addicted."

The College of Pharmacy, first designed to address a pharmacist shortage in our region, is now tackling an issue with no easy fix. With no funding coming from the state level, the institution will depend on federal resources to keep up the battle.

"If there were an opportunity for federal resources to support the institution, I think it would be in those areas of outreach prevention and treatment which touch more than simply the College of Pharmacy," ETSU President Brian Nolan said.

If elected, Bredesen says he plans to come back to ETSU to learn more from those on the front lines of a daunting fight.

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