Drug overdoses in Tennessee set tragic record

NASHVILLE, TN (WJHL) – Tennessee experienced a roughly 15% increase in the number of people who died from drug overdoses in 2015, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The latest data reveals 1,451 Tennesseans died in 2015 from drug overdoses compared to 1,263 people the prior year. Over the course of the last five years, 6,036 people have died from drug overdoses in Tennessee.

Regionally, Sullivan (35), Washington (30), Hawkins  (16) and Carter (12) counties had the most drug overdose deaths in 2015. Shelby (188), Davidson (157) and Knox (153) counties had the most statewide.

The state reports the overdose death rate increased from 19.3 per 100,000 people to 22 in the past year. The rate for people to die in car crashes is lower at 14.7 per 100,000 people. The Department of Health says 970 people died in car crashes in Tennessee last year.

“This is a disease every one of us is vulnerable to, not a moral failing,” Commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner said. “Not one of these victims deserved this, and the tragedy of lives lost to overdoses becomes even more painful knowing these deaths can be prevented and are the horrible tip of the overdose iceberg. We’ve made progress in reducing the amount of powerful narcotics legally dispensed and in making the overdose antidote naloxone more readily available, but there are still many people battling substance use disorders without seeking professional help and many criminals willing to sell extremely dangerous pills, counterfeit pills and gray and illegal substances.”

According to the state, 72% of the people who died from drug overdoses in 2015 used opioids. The state also reports an increase in the number of fentanyl and heroin overdose deaths.

The state says if you or someone you know needs help with addiction people should call REDLINE at (800) 889-9789 or visit www.taadas.org/redline.htm.

Copyright WJHL 2016. All rights reserved.

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