by Steve Birr
A new report reveals the deteriorating national opioid epidemic is hitting Tennessee particularly hard, killing three people across the state each day.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam created the Tennessee Commission on Pain and Addiction Medicine Education Jan. 24 to investigate the addiction crisis and develop new standards for the state’s medical educational institutions, in order to avoid the mistakes that led to the current epidemic, reports WMC.
The report, published Thursday, identifies 12 areas perspective doctors in Tennessee must now master that are aimed at tackling the opioid crisis, including alternative treatments that limit use of the drugs and the most effective ways to treat addiction.
“If the primary care provider doesn’t understand addiction and pain, then the primary care provider becomes part of the stigma against it,” Dr. David Stern of Memphis’s UT Health Science Center, who was part of the commission, told WMC.
Tennessee continues to suffer from rampant opioid abuse, which killed 1,186 people in 2016. The death rate from opioids in Tennessee is a staggering 18.1 per 100,000 people. Officials say in the report that every day there are roughly three opioid-related deaths in the state.
“In Tennessee we have a major problem around opioid addiction,” Haslam previously said, according to WMC. “Last year we wrote 7.6 million prescriptions for opioids and there are only 6.6 million Tennesseans.”
Opioids accounted from 42,249 of the lives lost to drugs in 2016, a 28 percent increase over the roughly 33,000 lives lost to opioids in 2015. Preliminary data from the CDC estimates there were roughly 46,466 opioid-related deaths in 2017, thought the numbers are not yet final.
Data released by officials with the CDC July 11 reveals the majority of opioid-linked deaths are now the result of synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
The report shows synthetic opioids killed roughly 27,000 people across the U.S. over the 12-month period ending November 2017, up from roughly 19,413 lives in 2016 and 9,580 lives in 2015. The sharp increase prompted a Health Alert Network warning from CDC officials advising of the ever-increasing presence of synthetic opioids in the drug supply, including in non-opioid narcotics such as cocaine.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans younger than 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.
– – –
Steve Birr is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Steve on Twitter.