Opioid task force suggests plan utilizing former addicts to fight ongoing epidemic

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Commissioners unveiled new tactics in the fight against opioid abuse.

The opioid epidemic has ravaged Shelby County, claiming 474 lives between 2013 and 2016.

Shelby County Commission Chairwoman Heidi Shafer is part of an opioid task force studying ways to combat the epidemic, including an approach of putting addicts in touch with former addicts.

Shafer said Wednesday, the county's opioid task force has discovered roadblocks in getting information from federal and state agencies that could help them better focus their efforts on areas in their districts that need the most assistance.

"There's sometimes roadblocks to get information from hospitals and emergency rooms in order to know where most of those overdoses are happening," Shafer said.

She said pharmaceutical agencies need to play their part too by self-regulating, but she admits that's only going to happen if they get hit with lawsuits.

"We'll get there, but I want to get there faster and I want to get there in a way that takes care of our taxpayers because we didn't create this problem and I don't think the taxpayers should bear the brunt of getting us out," Shafer said.

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