What is We C.A.R.E.?
Mission Statement: to purposefully create and foster relationships to engage our community in ending the opioid epidemic.
We C.AR.E. is a group of concerned community members of Rutherford County. The strength of We C.A.R.E. is the many different backgrounds and experiences of the members.
- Community: Engage and coordinate everyone willing to help with prevention and recovery efforts related to ending the opioid epidemic
- Alternatives: Champion and promote prevention, treatments, devices, and alternative choices to opioids
- Relationships: Reduce stigma and remove barriers to improve access to treatment for those with opioid use disorder
- Education: Educate the community, providers, and law makers about opioid use disorder and strategies to end the epidemic
We C.A.R.E. holds monthly meetings at 12 p.m. on the 2nd Tuesday of each month in the McDonald Conference Room of St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital. The meetings are open to the community and all are welcome to join us.
We C.A.R.E. is a committee of the Prevention Coalition for Success, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
About Opioids and the Epidemic
Opioids are a class of drug that includes prescription pain relievers (oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and others), heroin, and fentanyl.
In 2018, an opioid overdose resulted in the death of 1,304 Tennesseans. 68 of these deaths occurred in Rutherford County.
For information about the epidemic:
Substance Use Disorder
If use of a substance such as alcohol or drugs causes negative health effects or causes problems at home, work, or school, this may be substance use disorder. Substance use disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Severe substance use disorder is also known as addiction. A main characteristic of addiction is continued use of the substance despite harmful consequences.
The latest science describes addiction as a brain disease because use of a substance changes the circuits in the brain that regulate reward, stress, and self-control. Correcting these ‘rewired’ circuits takes a time even after stopping use of the substance.
The continuum of care for substance use disorder starts with prevention followed by treatment then recovery.
The best method to prevent substance use disorder is to prevent the initial use of the substance.
Prevention is any activity aimed at avoiding substance abuse and reducing social and health consequences.
Prevention takes place in different forms and settings. Here are a few examples:
Awareness campaigns and educational events increase knowledge about the risk of substance abuse
Supporting parents including tips for talking to their children about the risk of substance abuse.
After-school activities to support youth with positive peer groups and role models
Prevention efforts aimed at root causes of substance abuse such as trauma, adverse childhood experiences, and resiliency.
- Drug take-back events remove addictive medications from the environment. To properly dispose of unused medications at any time, locations of permanent drop boxes in Rutherford County are on the flyer below:
For more information about prevention:
Prevention Coalition for
A non-profit organization with a
goal to make Rutherford County
healthier by preventing
prescription drug abuse, alcohol
abuse, and tobacco use in
youth and young adults.
There are different treatment options for substance use disorder. Treatment should include counselling or behavioral therapy. Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is often used to treat severe substance use disorder involving an opioid. It is important to talk to your doctor and your treatment provider to develop a treatment plan.
Addiction is a chronic disease and relapse may occur. Relapse is not moral failure or lack of will-power. Relapse may mean that more treatment or a different type of treatment is needed.
Navigating the treatment process can be confusing and overwhelming. Here is some of the language you might encounter when discussing treatment:
- Detox – Detoxification; the medical treatment of the physical effects of withdrawing from a substance
- Residential treatment – longer term, in-patient treatment
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) – intensive clinical services lasting all day for weeks provided in an outpatient setting; a step below in intensity from residential treatment
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) – clinical services lasting several hours per day on several days per week; a step below in intensity from partial hospitalization programs
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) – use of a medication to treat substance use disorder; for opioids, this may include buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone
- Recovery residences – alcohol and drug free living facilities often providing temporary housing during treatment; also called sober living houses
These definitions are from the Recovery Research Institute. The link to this resource is below.
For more information:
Even though the terms treatment and recovery are often used simultaneously, these are two different concepts.
There are multiple definitions of recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) describes recovery as a “process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.” Health, home, purpose, and community are four dimensions involved in recovery.
The Recovery Research Institute’s Addictionary defines recovery as “the process of improved physical, psychological, and social well-being and health after having suffered from a substance use disorder.”
It is important to support those in recovery. Support from friends, family, support groups, behavioral health services, and the faith community are all support systems that can help sustain recovery.
For more information:
A non-profit research institute
of Massachusetts General
Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard
Medical School, dedicated to
the advancement of addiction
treatment and recovery.
According to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, harm reduction is a way of preventing disease and promoting health that meets people where they are rather than making judgments about where they should be. Scientifically- proven ways of mitigating risk associated with use are essential. This includes the distribution of the lifesaving opioid overdose antidote Naloxone.
Syringe exchange programs are another example of harm reduction. Harm Reduction International includes non-abstinence based housing and employment as examples of harm reduction.
The TN Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Regional Overdose Prevention program offers naloxone training sessions. Attendees receive a free kit with two doses of Narcan, the nasal spray version of Naloxone. For more information about these training sessions, contact:
Sarah Murfree, director of the Prevention Coalition for Success at firstname.lastname@example.org
Trey Dees, the Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist for Rutherford County at email@example.com
For more information:
Tennessee Dept. of Mental
Health and Substance
Abuse Services Regional
Providing training on opioids,
opioid overdose prevention, and
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
According to the University of Rochester’s Medical Center health encyclopedia, neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) happens when babies are exposed to drugs, including opioids, in the womb before birth.
For more information:
For even more informational resources about substance use disorder, prevention, treatment, and recovery, click on the links below.
TN Commission for Children
ACEs Primer Video with
Nadine Burks Harris –
“How Childhood Trauma Effects
Health Across the Lifespan”
Crash Course Psychology:
Trauma and Addiction
The Chemistry of Addiction
Understanding the Opioid
Epidemic by PBS
The Science of Opioid
Addiction and Treatment –