Many residents in the state of Tennessee remain addicted to alcohol, prescription drugs, illicit drugs or combined substances. Opioid prescription drug abuse has also become a significant problem in the society. The easy access and availability of street drugs such as heroin continue to pose a serious public health threat.
Over 6,000 deaths were reported in Tennessee due to overdose deaths from 2011 to 2015. The death rates per 100,000 residents have increased from this period, from a rate of 16.6 to a saddening rate of 22. The city of Nashville was most affected by substance abuse problems.
The local authorities in Tennessee have been making the best efforts to fight the persistent substance abuse epidemic in the state. Several policies have been enacted by the town’s lawmakers to curb the alarming rise in overdose deaths in the state.
In 2016, pharmacies in Tennessee were authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly to allow patients who are at risk of an overdose due to opioid to carry naloxone. This drug is one of the few essential medicines that can counteract the effects of overdosing opioid prescription drugs.
Drug Abuse Statistics in Tennessee
When it comes to substance abuse rates, Tennessee has been in the top five of all US states. There were 11,717 residents admitted to substance abuse treatment programs in 2010. 67% of those patients were males, and about 33% of those admitted were females.
When it comes to illicit drug use rates, the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked the highest. This report was stated in the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Because of the availability of alcohol in shops and stores, alcohol remains as the most abused substance in Tennessee. This has been noted by the number of patients that underwent alcohol treatment programs. It was reported that more than 60% of patients seek treatment for addiction to alcohol.
In 2016, about 1 in 20 residents in Tennessee were either abusing or depending on alcohol. Alcohol or drug dependency was four times higher in males than in females. During this year, more than 27,000 individuals were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Prescription Drug Abuse
Opioid prescription drug abuse has become a prevalent problem in Tennessee. It has become an epidemic in the state that people are allowed to carry naloxone – a drug used to negate the effects of opioid drug overdose until medical aid has arrived.
Many habit-forming prescription meds that are used to treat chronic pain had been abused, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. It has been known that drug users abuse these two commonly used painkillers.
Tennessee ranked first in 2007 to 2008 in the number of patients (over 26 years old) who abused prescription opioids. 3,379 residents submitted themselves to treatment programs for opioid addiction in 2010. 57.6% of the patients were men, and 42.4% were women patients.
It was known that only 17% of these patients had been legitimately prescribed with opioid meds by their doctors. 70% of these drug abusers obtain the supply of prescription opioids from family members or friends. Only 4% of these individuals actually buy from drug dealers.
Illegal Drug Abuse
Just like any state in the US, illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine persist to be a public health threat in Tennessee communities in 2017. The authorities believed that about 800 meth laboratories are operating in the state. This overwhelming number of meth labs can cause fire because of highly inflammable ingredients.
An alarming 800% increase in the number of arrests were related to heroin. It had risen to over 1,500 in 2016 which was previously only 169 arrests back in 2009.
A rise in the number of patients who were admitted to treatment centers was also reported in 2016. More than 1,400 individuals were admitted for treatment of cocaine abuse.
Combined Substance Abuse
Some overdose deaths can be caused by a combination of substances like alcohol and opioids. Combining substances can result in fatal consequences. The mixture of different drugs can worsen the effects of each substance if taken together.
About a third of the total number of patients were admitted to rehabilitation facilities for the treatment of both drugs and alcohol.
It was known that people with mental illnesses could likely abuse substances when not monitored properly. Mental health support was also necessary to successful treatment from substance abuse.