Number of people dying from drug overdoses has doubled since 1999
(WBIR) A new reports shows that drug-use is still a serious problem in Tennessee, but the state is making significant headway to curb the issue.
Tennessee ranked 8th for fatal drug overdoses according to the "Trust of America's Health." The number of people dying from drug overdoses has doubled since 1999 - but Tennessee is not alone. Nationally, rates have doubled in 29 states since 1999. Out of 100,000 people in Tennessee, 17 die from drug overdoses.
The majority of these overdoses result from prescription drug addiction. Prescription drug-related deaths now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined. Fatal drug overdoses also exceed the number fatal car accidents in nearly 30 states.
"Fifty Americans die a day from prescription drug overdoses, and more than 6 million suffer from prescription drug abuse disorders," said Dr. Andrea Gielen, director of John Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, in the report. "This is a very real epidemic - and warrants a strong public health response."
Doctors prescribed enough painkillers in 2010 to medicate every adult in America continually for a month. Recently, Tennessee passed a new law that requires doctors to a check a patient's drug history before prescribing certain prescription drugs. This is one of seven things "Trust of America's Health" reports that Tennessee is doing right. The state passed seven of the report's 10 criteria to curb prescription pill abuse, which is more than most states. Nationally, 28 states and Washington D.C. scored six or less.
There is a financial incentive for state and national leaders to combat the prescription pill epidemic. Misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers alone costs the country an estimated $53.4 billion a year in lost productivity, medical expenses, and criminal justice costs.
"Prescription drugs can be a miracle for many, but misuse can have dire consequences," said Dr. Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust of America's Health said in the report. "The rapid rise of abuse requires nothing short of a full-scale response - starting with prevention and education all the way through to expanding and modernizing treatment. There are many promising signs that we can turn this around - but it requires urgent action."
Numbers show that the only one in 10 Americans with substance abuse problems gets treatment.