Report: Tennessee posts highest number of overdose deaths on record


Heroin and doses of a deadly drug cocktail mixed with Fentanyl combined with the ongoing opioid epidemic has resulted in the most overdose deaths in Tennessee since the state's health department began keeping records.

The data released Monday by the Department of Health shows 1,776 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses with prescription opioids being the most common drug associated in the deaths.

Citing more deaths from overdoses than car crashes in 2017, Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner said in the report that few state residents have not be affected in some way by the drug epidemic but "new hope" is on the horizon due to more concerted efforts from state and local health officials to meet the problem head-on.

"Prevention works, stigma is decreasing, treatment is effective and people get better, " Dreyzehner commented.

The report said 75 percent of all overdose deaths were directly related with opioids, including "street" drugs obtained without a prescription.

Other facts released in Monday's report:

  • 1,268 overdose deaths were associated with opioids including 644 from pain medications like hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine
  • Heroin was involved in 311 deaths last year- a 20 percent increase from 2016
  • Fentanyl claimed 500 deaths- a 70 percent increase from the last reporting cycle

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