UPDATE: While the number of drug overdose deaths in Tennessee increased in 2015, newly released numbers from the Tennessee Department of Health show Northeast Tennessee had fewer overdose deaths. 110 people died in our region in 2015 compared to 118 the prior year, according to state data.
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.
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 who 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.
We are taking a closer look at the numbers in our region. Did overdose deaths increase here too? If so, in which counties? We will update this story throughout the day.
- See also: Drug overdoses in Tennessee set tragic record
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