Susan Phillips (3)


Volunteer Behavioral Health is joining with other communities nationwide to recognize October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. 

Information gathered from a number of federal and state agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that a significant portion of the nation’s population is challenged by substance dependence or abuse.

The issues affecting the local community are no different than what is being realized nationwide. The data published by the CDC, while national in its scope, is gathered from a collection of both urban areas and small communities. The CDC data addresses all age groups and all relative demographics.

In recent years Tennessee has been ranked as high as third in the country for prescription drug abuse across all demographics. About 38,000 teenagers in Tennessee, approximately 7.4 percent of the teen population, have reported using illicit drugs. In Tennessee 80 percent of the crimes committed have some relationship to drug use and 50 percent of the juveniles in state custody are there because of parental drug use.

Substance abuse and addiction destroys families; is a leading cause of crime; reduces productivity in the workplace and most importantly is claiming hundreds of lives each year in our state.

October was first declared National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in 2011 with the purpose being to call attention to the number of people being impacted by substance abuse nationwide and to remember those who lost individual battles with addiction and substance abuse and as a result forfeited their lives.

As recently as 2016, an estimated 48.5 million persons in the U.S., or almost 20 percent of the population of those 12 years old and older, reported using illicit drugs or the misuse of prescription drugs during the previous 12 months.

This data included the use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and methamphetamines and the misuse of prescription drugs.

It is estimated by authorities that by 2020, mental health and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide.

Historical data, which tracks individuals in treatment over extended periods, holds that most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease criminal activity if relevant, and improve occupational, social, and psychological functioning.

Treatment and support for those struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues are available through services provided by Volunteer Behavioral Health Care, a nonprofit agency serving some 31 counties in Middle and Southeast Tennessee and the Upper Cumberland Region including this local county. 

For more information about recovery, substance abuse, mental illness or related topics call Volunteer Behavioral Health at 1-877-567-6051 or visit

Susan K. Phillips, LMSW, Center Director/Cumberland Mental Health, Gallatin - Hendersonville; (615) 452-1354 / (615) 824-5801.

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