Born Drug Free-Jon Gustin-2-9-2015-04On February 9, 2015, a press conference was held at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to unveil Born Drug-Free Tennessee (BDFTN). Partners from across the region and state were in attendance for this monumental day.

The East Tennessee Regional Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome task force started BDFTN as a way to raise awareness, educate and help pregnant women who are using to drugs the help they need as soon as possible.

Karen Pershing, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Drug Commission, says nearly half of drug-dependent babies born in the state are from East Tennessee. She says bringing the problem out in the open is the key to prevention.

“I’m just thrilled! We’ve been working on this probably two to three years. It’s so exciting to finally see it all come together and have so much community support.”

During the month of February, BDFTN radio and television public service announcements hit the airwaves, along with billboards. Media partners for this campaign included: Kim Hansard with Star 102.1, Robin Wilhoit with WBIR Channel 10 and Lamar Advertising. We would like to thank these partners for giving their time and effort to help us with this important campaign.

The website had over 40,000 hits in the month of February.  Over half of the visitors went to the “Get Help” section of the website.

BDFTN also partnered with the Star 102.1 Radiothon benefiting East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.  With this partnership, BDFTN was the phone bank sponsor. Karen Pershing, Executive Director of MDC, Carla Saunders, nurse at ETCH and a mother of a NAS baby had a live interview with Marc and Kim about the NAS epidemic in our region.

The East Tennessee Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Task Force would like to express special thanks to “Born Drug Free Florida” for the development and design of these campaign materials. Another special thanks for Appalachia HIDTA for providing the initial funding for this campaign.

We look forward to seeing how this message spread across our region and the state of Tennessee. If you would like to donate to this campaign, please visit

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