CEO Letter

Sep. 20, 2016

bluecross blueshield ceo jd hickey sitting on desk

JD Hickey talks about Tennessee's epidemic of prescription drug abuse and misuse

It’s impossible to measure the pain and heartbreak Tennessee families have endured because of prescription drug misuse and abuse.

And it’s just as difficult to imagine what slipping into addiction feels like — especially since so many addicts never intended to be drug abusers.

Some simply started with a need to treat real pain brought on by injuries or medical procedures.cover of Better Tennessee magazine, featuring photo of woman sitting in front of blinds for the story "the addict next door"

Sheryl, featured on our cover, is a Nashville-area woman who found herself in this very situation.

She told us “girls like me aren’t addicts,” and yet after a surgery and subsequent injury, she became one.

The hard truth is that dependency can happen to anyone — your family member, your neighbor, your co-worker.

It could happen to you.

Knowing that so many Tennesseans could be at risk, we at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee have a responsibility to seek and promote solutions to this hidden health crisis.

In fact, we have a long history of working to combat the effects of painkiller misuse.

Our earliest efforts began with the most vulnerable victims — newborn babies.

We began partnerships with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and Dayspring Family Health Center in 2013 after seeing incidents of neonatal abstinence syndrome spiking in the Appalachian region.

baby suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome in crib
a doctor standing in hallway of a hospital smiling

Click the photos to read about Tennessee's neonatal abstinence syndrome epidemic at East Tennessee Children's Hospital (left) and at Dayspring Family Health Center (right).

In this issue of Better Tennessee, you’ll get the perspective of experts on how this problem has grown in Tennessee.

You’ll read about a remarkable grassroots organization and its successful approach to preventing abuse, which we’re helping take statewide.

And you’ll see how we’re partnering with the medical community to change how potentially dangerous drugs are prescribed.

We hope you’ll be moved by Sheryl’s story, better informed about the scope of this public health epidemic, and inspired to join the efforts underway to reduce prescription drug misuse and abuse in Tennessee.