When looking for solutions to conquer addiction, we often turn to the national news and headlines that illustrate how other regions are tackling the problem. With that in mind, we were very interested when we saw a story that claimed that former Tennessee Governor Phil Bresden cut his state’s meth problem in half. Is it true? The Washington Post did a nice job of laying out both sides of the argument. And in the end, it did illustrate how political leaders can make a serious dent in the country’s dependency problem.
Bresden left office back in the late 2000’s and is now running for a Democratic Senate seat. He said that his tenure as Tennessee governor brought about sweeping addiction change. A big reason for that was the signing of the state’s Meth-Free Act in 2005. This core provision required pharmacies to heavily guard any cold or sinus medication that could be used to manufacture meth. That meant that anyone looking to purchase something like Sudafed would have to get it from the counter and follow a screening process.
Truth be told, after that measure had passed the state did see a significant drop in meth lab incidents. In fact, they declined from 2,341 in 2004 to 599 in 2007 (a 74 percent decrease when you crunch the numbers). And that actually is quite notable, as Tennessee was among the top three states with meth lab arrests from 2003 to 2005.
But sure enough, those numbers began creeping up again after Bresden left office. Researchers discovered that dealers simply found new ways to create the narcotic, such as buying ingredients from different vicinities. There was also a recorded rise in international meth smuggling, primarily from Mexican drug cartels.
Recently, Bresden acknowledged the rise in Tennessee drug cases over the past several years. He described the war on meth as a “moving target” and, if elected to the Senate, vowed to continue the fight, with a particular emphasis on America’s opioid crisis.
“I am very proud that Tennessee worked with law enforcement to cut in half the number of illegal meth lab seizures in the immediate aftermath of the Meth-Free Tennessee Act,” he explained to The Post. “Unfortunately, as law enforcement officials on the front lines have always said, addicts would find other ways to satisfy their fix, and much of the meth in Tennessee is now coming from Mexico This war will continue to be a ‘moving target’ that will require a coordinated commitment from the federal, state and local governments.”