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UT launches network to support Tennesseans affected by opioid addiction


KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee System President Randy Boyd announced the formation of the Substance Misuse and Addiction Resource for Tennessee (SMART) Policy Network during the Fall Board Meeting. The network aims to assist the countless number of Tennesseans affected by substance misuse each year and transform the University of Tennessee’s approach to combating the current opioid epidemic.

In response to the growing physical, mental, economical and societal toll substance misuse is taking on Tennessee, President Boyd identified the need for greater collaboration across substance misuse-related research projects and community outreach programs.

“Having traveled to every county several times in the past few years, I knew the opioid epidemic was a problem we needed to harness our full force and collaboration behind,” said Boyd. “I have already seen significant change from all the great work happening across the state, and I am eager to see what happens when we’re all working collaboratively.”



The network is a result of the 2019 Summit for Opioid Addiction and Response (SOAR), where more than 700 physicians, nurses, law enforcement officers, economists, faith-based leaders, public health experts, addiction survivors, government officials and more gathered together to brainstorm effective solutions to untangle the complicated web of substance abuse across the state.

Furthermore, providing this resource for collaboration to mitigate the consequences of the opioid epidemic is a long-term aspect of UT President Boyd’s Strategic Plan, housed under the goal of fostering community outreach and engagement.

The group plans to provide evidence to communities and decision makers on best practices by delivering written reports, directed consultations and public forum presentations. It is a collaborative effort involving thought leaders from multiple units across the UT System as well as the ETSU Addiction Science Center, the state judicial system, private treatment providers, the Knox Metro Drug Coalition and many others.

The SMART Policy Network will first address policy and information surrounding telehealth availabilities and criminal justice reform.



Jennifer Tourville, UT System director of substance misuse outreach and initiatives, looks forward to the impact this program will have.

“I am confident this opportunity to work alongside so many community leaders and public experts will transform the way we approach substance misuse,” said Tourville.

Research shows that more than 70,000 Tennesseans currently suffer from opioid use disorder. Further, it’s estimated 115 people die in the United States each day from accidental overdose.

Substance use disorder also comes at an economic cost- estimated at more than $2 billion for the state.

The network aims to become a valued resource for data-driven, evidence-based, non-partisan and actionable policy information on substance misuse and addiction for the State of Tennessee.




The SMART Policy Network steering committee includes:

• Jennifer Tourville, DNP, CPNP, UT System Director of Substance Misuse Outreach and Initiatives
• Tiffany Carpenter, MBA, System Vice President for Communications and Marketing
• Robert Pack, PhD, MPH, Director of the ETSU Addiction Science Center
• Stephen Loyd, MD, Medical Director Cedar Recovery and Journey Pure
• Herb Byrd, PhD, UT System Vice President, Institute for Public Service
• Karen Pershing, MPH, CPS II, Executive Director, Metro Drug Coalition
• Carole Meyers, PhD, RN, UT Knoxville College of Nursing and Public Health Associate Professor
• Katie Cahill, PhD, UT Knoxville Associate Director, Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy
• Carla Saunders, DNP, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Regional Neonatal Associates
• Hon. Duane Sloane, 4th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge, State of TN
• Katie Singer, PhD, UT System Director of Strategic Planning and Policy

For more information and updates surrounding the SMART Policy Network, please visit smart.tennessee.edu.


Published November 1, 2020










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