Local Judge Puts Emphasis on Mental Health and Recovery Courts
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – In the last five years, overdose-related deaths have nearly doubled in Tennessee.
And Hamilton County ranks fourth in the state for overdoses.
But some argue that something can be done about it.
Last year, Hamilton County recorded 139 overdose-related deaths.
94 of those deaths involved fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which can be lethal in a dose as small as two milligrams.
“I think a lot of people will say, ‘well, fentanyl always goes with heroin addicts are likely to maybe experience overdose and possibly loss of life.’ But we’re watching things like fentanyl kind of find their way into drugs that were not normally associated,” said Bill Brown Director of Operations at Chattanooga Recovery Center.
In response to what she described as a “crisis of humanity,” Judge Lila Statom is placing a greater emphasis on mental health and recovery courts.
“Myself and judge McVeigh, who are over the recovery courts, work hard to try to get these individuals into treatment and get them out of the system,” said Judge Statom.
In recovery court, non-violent drug offenders receive treatment under supervision of the law.
“This is deadly and it can happen at any time. And if we look at it through that lens, and it can happen with any person, then the conversation needs to be now, and it needs to be honest, and it can just be ‘hey, I’m really worried about you; we need to talk about this’,” said Brown.