Latest figures from the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) data show 1,631 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses in 2016, the highest annual number of such deaths recorded in state history. This is an increase from the 1,451 overdose deaths recorded among Tennessee residents in 2015.
Said TDH Commissioner, John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, “The rate of increase in these deaths is slower than in the previous year, but it is still a horrible increase and, as we feared, our data shows illicit drugs like fentanyl are now driving the increase.
Overall, rates of death from drug overdose among Tennesseans have increased 12 percent from 2015 to 2016. Overdose deaths related to fentanyl have dramatically increased 74 percent from 169 to 294 in that time period. The biggest increase in fentanyl deaths is in those aged 25 – 34, where deaths increased from 42 in 2015 to 114 in 2016.
“We are alarmed by the growing number of Tennesseans dying as a result of fentanyl, and by the changing demographic of those who died,” said TDH Chief Medical Officer David Reagan, MD, PhD.
TDH data shows heroin was associated with the deaths of 260 Tennesseans in 2016, a 26 percent increase over the previous year.