TDMHSAS expands overdose reversal and substance use treatment program

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is excited to expand a proven program for reversing drug overdoses and connecting patients to addiction treatment to more parts of the state.  The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance is providing a $6,000,000, 3-year grant to expand the program.

First Responder Resource Engagement Specialty Team (FR-REST) takes Tennessee’s extensive and successful history of naloxone training and distribution and targets first responders and law enforcement as the audience.  FR-REST adds additional resources through care coordination and peer support provided by a person in recovery from substance use disorder.

The model was trialed in Tennessee starting in early 2020 with a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration covering 14 counties in southern middle Tennessee.  In its first year, the program trained more than 2,300 first responders and received nearly 600 referrals.  About half of those referrals resulted in an admission to inpatient treatment, and all referrals received recovery support and peer support services.

“What we’ve seen with this program is that law enforcement and first responders are excited and grateful to have a new tool in their toolbox.  Pairing the power of peers to connect with people in active addiction and continued follow-up and care coordination not only gets people the help they need, it also gives the first responders the motivation and sense of satisfaction that they’re positively changing someone’s life,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW.  “We’re excited to take this program to more parts of the state so we can continue to turn the tide of our state’s overdose epidemic.”

With this grant, TDMHSAS and our community partners are expanding this model to:

  • Major Metro Areas: Davidson, Knox, Shelby Counties
  • Northeast TN: Carter, Washington, Johnson, and Hawkins Counties
  • Northern Middle TN: Cheatham, Dickson, Montgomery, and Robertson Counties
  • Southwest TN: Madison, Haywood, Tipton, Lauderdale, Fayette, and Hardeman

TDMHSAS will execute contracts with locally based non-profits including Substance Use Prevention Coalitions to expand the program with services tentatively set to begin in early 2023.

If you or a loved one needs a free, confidential referral to addiction treatment services, please call or text the Tennessee REDLINE at 800-889-9789.