A record number of people died of drug overdoses in Tennessee last year.
New numbers from the Tennessee Department of Health show 1,451 people died of drug overdoses in Tennessee. Nearly 72 percent of the overdoses involved opioids. Now more people are dying from drug overdoses than in car accidents.
Numbers also show 157 people died from overdoses in Davidson County, 25 in Williamson County, 15 in Maury County, 36 in Montgomery County and 18 in Dickson County. There were eight counties where no overdose drugs were documented: Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Perry, Pickett, Trousdale and Van Buren.
Chief Medical Officer for the Tennessee Department of Health Dr. David Reagan said while the trend of increased drug overdoses is troubling, there was some positive news. The number of people doctor shopping is down 50% over the past four years, less opioids are being dispensed in the state and the number of people seeking treatment has increased. Still, Dr. Reagan said it is a large epidemic.
“It’s not something that will be taken care of in a day, or a week or a year,” said Dr. Reagan. “We need a concerted effort.”
Dr. Reagan said he believed many of the deaths were preventable, and seeking treatment is key.
“We want more people to be able to realize it is a treatable disease,” said Dr. Reagan. “The further along, the more difficult it is, but wherever you are on that spectrum, you can get help.”
At Addiction Campuses in Brentwood, operators in the call center help people take the first step toward getting help.
“Definitely get to good treatment,” said Joey Banks, a treatment specialist at Addiction Campuses. “That is what saved me.”
Banks battled an opioid addiction for around 13 years. Now he is hoping his story helps save others.
“I started with pills and went to heroin,” said Banks. “I was just at a point where I didn’t care. That is what opioids do to you. You don’t care about anything.”
The State of Tennessee has a hotline for people seeking treatment for addiction. The number is 1-800-889-9789.
For information about treatment options, you can also call the Addiction Campuses hotline 24/7 at 1-888-614-2251.