Painkiller Overdoses Kill More in Tennessee than Car Accidents or Guns

Friday, October 09, 2015
(photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

Overdoses from opioid prescription painkillers have reached epidemic proportions in Tennessee.


Last year’s total of opioid overdoses was 1,263, up 97 over the total in 2013, according to The Tennessean. Opioids are found in prescription painkillers such as Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, nicknamed “hillbilly heroin.”


“It’s an epidemic sweeping across the state, affecting people in both small towns and big cities,” The Tennessean’s Holly Fletcher wrote.


The number of those who died as a result of opioid overdoses was greater than the total killed in car accidents or by gunfire.


“I would like to think the rate of increase has slowed, but quite frankly the 2014 numbers don’t really allow me to say that,” David Reagan, chief medical officer of the Tennessee Department of Health, told the newspaper. “It is at epidemic proportions in our state.”

The death toll was highest among men and women ages 45 to 55, Reagan said.


The state is trying to combat the trend. Already, the information tracked in the state’s controlled substance database has expanded. Beginning next year, chief medical officers of pain clinics will be required to be pain specialists.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Overdose Deaths Reach ‘Epidemic Proportions’ (by Holly Fletcher, The Tennessean)

Overdose Deaths Reach ‘Epidemic Proportions’ in Tennessee (Associated Press)

States Battle with FDA over Powerful New Painkiller (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Doctors are Primary Source of Narcotic Painkillers for Chronic Drug Abusers in U.S. (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


harley 8 years ago
Steven: You must a gun nut, the only thing you can think about is protecting your precious gun. You apparently don't give a damn about the point of the article, which is that thousands of people are misusing drugs, both legal and illegal, and dying. Though the headline could have been better, it's point is that while the average person would guess car accidents and guns are the biggest reason people die, it's drugs, often drugs prescribed by the local family doctor. But you don't care about these people or the people they leave behind, or the affects on the state of Tennessee in terms of social disarray or even cold economic facts, not as long as you can keep your precious gun(s). We need to find ways to cut down on the number of people who get killed in car accidents, gun or other types of violence, all causes that are within our control to stop if we worked harder and smarter. After 4 decades of a useless "war on drugs" we've got to find ways to reduce/eliminate people dying unnecessarily from drugs that are too easy to get and too easy to abuse, and we also need to find ways to reduce/eliminate people dying unnecessarily from guns/violence and car accidents that work better than what we've got.
steven 8 years ago
sensationalist title. guns aren't even in the top ten of killers in tennessee, you're playing on people's fears.

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