East Tennessee coroner uses radio show to talk about drug issues

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HAMBLEN COUNTY (WVLT) Where would you turn for help if you or someone you love gets hooked on drugs?

Many families don't even think about it until it's too late.

One area coroner is using his daily radio show to talk about the issue.

Volunteer TV's Rob Pratt has more.

Hamblen county coroner Eddie Davis has seen the deadly results of drug addiction first-hand.

After seeing drug-overdose deaths increase sharply in his county, he decided to make the problem the focus of his local radio show.

But even he was surprised by the response.

Hamblen County Coroner Eddie Davis and his wife Betty host an hour-long radio program on WMTN in Morristown.

They offer advice to parents.

After running the Youth Emergency Shelter for 30 years and raising four children of their own, the Davises thought they had heard it all.

But that was before they they asked for calls and letters from families dealing with drug addiction.

Callers call in with various concerns.

"I'm the mother of an addict."

"He's done meth, he's done crack, he's even done the needle. In September I found him on the floor."

Eddie Davis says, "I think it's epidemic proportions, the number of people's that's abusing different substances."

Davis says the number of deaths by drug overdose has been going up for years in Hamblen County, reaching 39 last year.

Until a few weeks ago, Eddie always assumed that help was there for those who wanted it.

Davis says, "when somebody says, I've got a problem and I want help, we've got to have something there for those people and I've not been able to find it."

One family called the show looking for help, saying a young adult who they love is addicted to methamphetamine.

Kathy Dingus says her nephew went to area emergency rooms and the family called several rehab groups.

All they got was talk of waiting lists for inpatient rehab, some as long as 12 weeks.

"It makes a difference, one day, two days can make a difference in whether they live or die, and all you want is to help them and you run into one brick wall after another."

Davis says, "if we don't wake up and everybody start working together to try to turn this around, I don't know where we're headed."

So where will Kathy's nephew get help?

No one knows.

Dingus: says, "I'm not going to stop. There's got to be somewhere, somebody out there, that can help us get him through this."

While immediate help may not always be available, it's still important to talk to a doctor if you or a loved one has a problem with drugs.

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