On Thursday the Knox County Regional Forensic Center released its 2016 Drug-Related Death Report for Knox and Anderson Counties.

The report shows data from drug-related death cases investigated by the center from 2010 to 2016. It shows the number of drug-related deaths in Knox and Anderson Counties increased more than 25 percent from 2015 to 2016.

"Drugs continue to plague our community and, while our law enforcement and other agencies are tireless in their efforts to address this issue, we continue to see more and more families affected by drug use," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. "By the time someone suffering from addiction makes their way to the Knox County Regional Forensic Center, it's too late for them. Hopefully, the data presented in the report can help our partner agencies to get help for people who need it before it's too late."

READ MORE: 1,451 killed by drug overdoses in Tennessee in 2015

READ MORE: Drug-Related Deaths Doubled 2010-2015

In 2016, the number of African Americans and young adults who died of drug-related causes more than doubled from 2015, representing a 109 percent increase and 138 percent increase in each county.

"For years we’ve been warning, it’s coming, it’s going to get worse and even last year I said it’s going to get worse before it gets better with all these new programs that we have and it’s really it’s the case and I don’t think we’ve plateaued yet," said Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan.

Here are some of the highlights from the report:

  • Drug related deaths increased by 28 percent from 2015 to 2016
  • People 45 to 54-years-old had the highest number of drug-related deaths
  • The number of drug deaths for people 25 to 34-years-old more than doubled from 2015 to 2016
  • Fentanyl and its counterparts were the most frequently found drugs in 2016 drug-related deaths

The report notes that prescription medications are still the most frequently found drugs in drug-related deaths but Fentanyl has surpassed oxycodone as the most deadly drug seen in the cases from Knox and Anderson counties.

Already in 2017, the 25 to 34 year age group has the highest number of drug related deaths.

"Opiates are not something we should play with because addiction can get ahold of you very quickly and you might never escape it for the rest of your life," Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan added.

You can read the full report here.