In 2016, Tennessee had the 2nd highest prescription rate for opioids and was ranked near the top in prescription opioid overdose deaths per capita in the US, with 1,631 deaths in that year alone. Abuse of prescription benzodiazepines, stimulants, and sedatives has also become a growing concern.
Today's opioid overdose and misuse crisis is a stubborn, complex, and multisystem problem touching individuals, families, schools, agencies, and employers throughout the country. According to the TN Together website, each day in Tennessee, at least three people die from an opioid-related overdose, which is more than the number of daily traffic fatalities in the state.
Although progress is being made through the state's Prescription for Success and Prescription Safety Act, Tennessee remains in the top 15 of all states in drug overdose deaths. Each year, more opioid prescriptions are written than there are people living in Tennessee. The opioid epidemic has affected individuals, families, and communities across the entire state.
A disturbing new discovery is compounding the problem of fighting drugs in Tennessee. Law enforcement agents recently recovered what appeared to be Oxycodone pills during a traffic stop, with the same size, appearance and stamp of Oxycodone. But a lab analysis determined these pills were counterfeit. They did not contain Oxycodone, but instead contained Fentanyl. The safety concern of this discovery is so great that the TBI issued a warning about this potentially dangerous drug recovery.
The concerns are not limited to illegal narcotics. Prescription drug abuse is causing increasingly serious problems in the state. Tennessee is ranked third in the country for prescription drug abuse, and cuts across demographics.
Studies show that about 5% of Tennesseans have used pain relievers in the past year for non-medical purposes, and more than 70% of people who use prescription drugs for non-medical reasons got them from a friend or relative. The abuse of prescriptions drugs is having disastrous consequences in the state, including overdose deaths, increasing hospital costs and emergency room visits, children being put in state custody, and incarceration of drug-related crimes.
Every day, at least three Tennesseans die from an opioid-related overdose. Many more come to hospital emergency rooms for care or treatment each day, which often have limited resources to support these patients in addressing their addiction.
In the year 2017, Tennessee providers wrote 94.4 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons. This was the third highest prescribing rate in the country and 1.5 times greater than the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions. Still, this represents a 25-percent decline in the state's opioid prescribing rate since 2013 (per the CDC).
The rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions rose steadily after 1999 to 11.1 deaths per 100,000 persons, but in the year 2017 it declined to 9.6 deaths per 100,000 persons.
In the year 2017, there were 1,269 overdose deaths involving opioids in Tennessee — a rate of 19.3 deaths per 100,000 persons, which is higher than the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons.
The greatest increase in opioid deaths was seen in cases involving synthetic opioids (mainly Fentanyl): a rise from 77 deaths in 2012 to 590 in 2017. Deaths involving heroin also increased dramatically in the same 5-year period: from 50 to 311 deaths. There were 644 deaths involving prescription opioids in 2017, a decrease from 739 in 2016.
NAS or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) may occur when a pregnant woman uses drugs such as opioids during pregnancy.The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) requires that all cases of NAS/NOWS be reported within 30 days of diagnosis.
In 2017, there were 1,090 cases of NAS/NOWS reported, representing 1.35% of all live births, and a 16 percent increase from 936 cases in 2013. Of the cases reported in the state in 2017, nearly 1 in 3 occurred as a result of exposure to diverted prescription opioid medications.
Of the new HIV cases in 2016, 715 occurred in Tennessee. Among males, 6.6 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU. Among females, 8.1 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to IDU.
In 2015, an estimated 16,425 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in Tennessee — a rate of 297 cases per 100,000 persons. Of those, 11 percent of male cases were attributed to opioid abuse or male-to-male contact and opioid abuse. Among females, 13.5 percent were living with HIV attributed to opioid and prescription and opioid abuse.
There were approximately 150 new cases of acute HCV (2.3 per 100,000 persons) reported in Tennessee in 2016 (per the CDC). In Tennessee, there are an estimated 69,800 persons living with Hepatitis C (2013-2016 annual average), a rate of 1,380 cases per 100,000 persons. A hefty amount of these cases were linked to prescription opioid abuse.
It is not all gloom and doom for Tennessee though - there are numerous centers of treatment and rehab in the state. There are many types of treatment centers such as long term addiction treatment facilities, short term drug abuse treatment, outpatient detoxification programs, outpatient substance abuse treatment services, inpatient drug abuse treatment and others.
There is a wide range of drug and alcohol rehab facilities available. They include individual psychotherapy, dialectical behavior therapy, couple/family therapy, trauma therapy, trauma-related counseling, cognitive/behavior therapy and others, to name a few. If you need rehab in Tennessee, all you need to do is place a call to any of the available rehab centers.
If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is imperative that you look for professional help as soon as you possibly can. However, you might not know where to start or the options that are open to you. Similarly, you may have little to no idea about the differences between the different treatment facilities and the programs they have in store for their patients.
Do you need help finding the right drug or alcohol rehab facility in your area?
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