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Opioid Abuse in Tennessee

Opioid abuse in Tennessee has been a widely discussed topic for the past several years. Like most states across the country, Tennessee has been rocked by the opioid crisis created by Big Pharma. Beginning in the mid 2000’s, major pharmaceutical companies have invested millions in promoting opioid-based pain medications to prescribing professionals in all corners of the United States. One of the states that was focused on most was Tennessee, where brand reps for pharmaceutical companies would travel to and convince professionals into purchasing and prescribing drugs such as OxyContin to patients in pain. Pushing that these medications were not addictive, providers in Tennessee and across the country began prescribing these drugs at free will until it became obvious that something wasn’t right. Today, we understand the origins of the opioid crisis and while we still work to combat advances to further this agenda, the nation is still faced with the continued fallout of this crisis. 

In Tennessee alone, hundreds of residents die from opioid overdoses each and every year. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, more people than ever before have began using opioids, relapsed on opioids, and have died from opioids, including those living in Tennessee. And while there are several mitigation tactics that are put in place and are effective in reducing opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose, there is still a lot more ground to cover when it comes to this deadly problem. 

Opioid Abuse in Tennessee: The Statistics

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports that of the 6.8 million citizens of Tennessee, approximately 70,000 of them are addicted to opioids like heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. Since 2015, fatal opioid-involved overdoses have continued to increase. By 2020, fentanyl, heroin, painkillers, and other opioid-related overdoses grew in fatality. The sharpest increases can be seen in opioid and fentanyl overdose rates, both of which drastically increased from 2019 to 2020. This specific statistic is on par with what the rest of the country saw during 2020 — a major increase in drug overdose deaths. With the pandemic front and center, overall drug overdose deaths increased from 70,630 to 93,000+ within a year, many of which being at the hands of opioids. 

Additional statistics specific to opioid abuse in Tennessee are as follows:

  • The Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) reports that of the 3,032 overdose deaths in Tennessee in 2020, opioids were involved in 79% of them
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that providers in Tennessee wrote out 81 opioid prescriptions per 100 people, putting them in third place for highest prescribing rate
  • The rate of NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome) in babies born in Tennessee is 16.4 cases per 1,000 deaths 
  • Fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Tennessee increased from 590 in 2017 to 827 in 2018
  • At least three people die each day in Tennessee from opioid overdose 
  • Tennessee sits in the top 15 states in the country for opioid overdose deaths

Between 2013 and 2018, approximately 9,100 Tennesseans have died as a result of drug overdoses, with 70% involving opioids like prescription painkillers, heroin, or fentanyl

While the opioid crisis continues to occur in Tennessee, the state is taking action by putting in place mitigation practices. One of the leading initiatives is known as TN Together, which is a plan comprised of several different elements all geared towards reducing opioid use, abuse, and overdose deaths in the state. Specifically, TN Together continues to utilize more than $30 million dollars of state and federal funds to focus on three specific factors: prevention, treatment, and law enforcement. Some of the ways in which TN Together is addressing prevention, treatment, and law enforcement in relation to the state’s opioid crisis include the following:

  • Prevention:
    • Increases prevention education in schools
    • Opioid prescriptions are limited to a three-day supply (in reasonable circumstances)
    • Implements public awareness campaign 
  • Treatment:
    • $25 million is used for treatment and recovery services across the state
    • TennCare members have access to high quality treatment services
    • Expands treatment services in Tennessee -based correctional facilities
  • Law Enforcement:
    • Increase state funding to help fight drug trafficking
    • Updates controlled substances schedules to better track, monitor, and penalize unlawful drug activity 
    • All Tennessee State Troopers have access to naloxone 

With initiatives like TN Together working towards making positive change, the state of Tennessee can expect to see the benefits of their efforts as time passes.

Opioid Rehab in Knoxville, Tennessee

Being addicted to opioids is no way to live. At Tennessee Valley Recovery, we understand that most people do not want to be addicted to opioids, but struggle to find the inner power to stop. That is why our team of professionals work cohesively to provide treatment plans for each and every client that comes through our doors. We strive to give you or your loved one the best experience possible so that your future can be brighter than ever before.
Do not wait any longer. Contact our team at Tennessee Valley Recovery right now to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one.

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