New statistics released on opioid abuse in Tennessee

(Photo: WKRN)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The State Department of Mental Health has released new statistics about opioid abuse in Tennessee.

According to the report released Wednesday, fewer pain pill prescriptions are being written in Tennessee, and health officials hope it means fewer people will become addicted to medicines like oxycodone.

The report also revealed that crimes involving both pills and heroin are on the rise, especially in East Tennessee and that pain pill abuse is still centered in rural communities, while heroin is more common in the state’s bigger cities.

The number of people arrested for heroin over the last seven years jumped from just 169 people in 2009 to more than 1,500 last year – which is nearly an 800 percent increase.

TBI agents made nearly 600 heroin seizures last year compared to just 82 in 2009.

The report also indicates that more people are dying from opioid overdoses, which increased by 48 percent between 2012 and 2015, while heroin overdose deaths jumped by more than 350 percent.

State officials said many of the deaths occur when opioids are mixed with things like Xanax and users don’t realize how dangerous that combination can be.

According to the new data, the number of babies born with withdrawal symptoms from opioid exposure has risen each year since 2013.

The State Department of Mental Health offers a variety of resources to help addicts and their families in the fight against opioid abuse.

For more information or to get help call the Tennessee Red-Line at 1-800-889-9789.