As is custom, ASAP coalition members have already started spending some time with legislators. In early February, ASAP staff traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the CADCA Forum conference. Throughout the week, ASAP connected with other coalitions from our state as well as across the country to discuss substance misuse, prevention, best practices and lessons learned from our communities. The Senate was also in session that week, so we were able to attend Tennessee Tuesday, an informal breakfast on Tuesday mornings with Senator Corker and Senator Alexander and their staff. The breakfast provided us an opportunity to speak with the Senators’ staff and advocate for a focus on primary prevention in addition to treatment and recovery services in TN. ASAP also collaborated with STAND of Scott County and Roane County Anti-Drug Coalition to meet with Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, who is on the House Committee on Appropriations. Advocacy was the name of the game in D.C. that week as ASAP and colleagues made sure our government leaders were educated on the benefits of prevention and anti-drug coalitions to support the fight against opioids and other substance misuse in Anderson County and the United States.
At the end of February, ASAP participated in Prevention Alliance of Tennessee (PAT) Day on the Hill in Nashville. ASAP Youth Ambassadors, students from the three Anderson County high schools, made up the majority of the group. Youth Ambassadors spoke with Lt. Governor McNally about substance misuse prevention and brought up several issues including concerns about electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), tobacco, fentanyl, opioids, and marijuana. In addition, students also met with both Representative John Ragan and Representative Dennis Powers. In all of the meetings, students and coalition members strongly advocated for primary prevention of substance misuse in Anderson County and across Tennessee. In addition to meetings with legislators, Stephanie Strutner testified at the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee to advocate for adding ENDS to the TN Non-Smoker Protection Act.