Prescription Drug Abuse Tops Alcohol Abuse In Tennessee

Friday, August 29, 2014

Abuse of prescription opioids, ie: pain medications, is the number one drug problem for Tennesseans receiving publicly funded assistance for treatment services. Over the past decade, substance abuse admissions for prescription drugs like: hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone have increased 500 percent.

The situation has driven admissions to treatment facilities up, from 764 in 2001 to 3,828 admissions in 2011.   

 “As of July 1, 2012, the number of admissions in our state for prescription drug abuse exceeded admissions for alcohol abuse for the first time in history,” said E. Douglas Varney, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

According to a 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 4 percent of Tennessean’s over the age of 18 and approximately 12 percent of 18-25 year olds reported using pain relievers recreationally in the past year. 

“Many people needing substance abuse treatment are not getting the help they need,” said Commissioner Varney. “And of the number of Tennesseans who could benefit from treatment, only about one person in eight actually received it.” 

Substance abuse treatment offers both a benefit to those who receive it and a savings to communities, said officials.

“The greatest savings is a reduction in the cost of crime for law enforcement, general healthcare costs, court and victimization costs and increased employer earnings,” said Commissioner Varney. “And the gain can also be measured in lives saved from a premature death.” 

In 2010, Tennessee’s 1,059 recorded drug-overdose deaths add up to an estimated 7,000 years of life lost, and a loss of earnings of approximately $238 million. 

“We all pay a price when someone needing substance abuse treatment doesn’t get the help they need,” said Commissioner Varney.         

During the months of June, July and August the TDMHSAS has put the spotlight on the epidemic of prescription drug use through the roll out of Prescription for Success: Statewide Strategies to Prevent and Treat the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic in Tennessee.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is to plan for and promote the availability of a comprehensive array of quality prevention, early intervention, treatment, habilitation and rehabilitation services and supports based on the needs and choices of individuals and families served. For more information, visit www.tn.gov/mental.

Gregory Sutton Joins Tennessee Oncology

Tennessee Oncology  announced the arrival of Dr. Gregory Sutton, a medical oncologist who cares for patients at Tennessee Oncology Chattanooga’s Medical Park II location at 2200 East Third St. in Suite 100. “Dr. Sutton is a great addition to our growing network of physicians committed to caring for cancer patients within their community and close to their home,” said ... (click for more)

Anne Ervin Joins Parkridge As Market Lead For Physician And Provider Relations

TriStar Health announced that Anne Ervin has joined Parkridge Health System as Market Lead for Physician and Provider Relations for the Chattanooga and North Georgia markets. Ms. Ervin is based at Parkridge Medical Center and is responsible for developing and executing outreach and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) growth strategies. In addition to her 25 years in healthcare, ... (click for more)

Boyd Asks Coppinger For Public Apology; Does Not Get One

County Commissioner Tim Boyd on Wednesday morning read a letter in which he asked County Mayor Jim Coppinger for a public apology. However, he did not get one. Instead, County Mayor Coppinger called remarks last Wednesday by Commissioner Boyd that the county mayor had $4.4 million in discretionary funds "ridiculous." He said that money includes such items as the Humane Educational ... (click for more)

New Family Justice Center Opens Near Eastgate

The fourth Family Justice Center in Tennessee opened on Wednesday in Chattanooga to much fanfare from community members and advocacy groups with comments from Executive Director Valerie Radu, Mayor Andy Berke and City Council Chair Carol Berz among others.       Ms. Berz, who has been an advocate for the establishment of such a facility to unite ... (click for more)

Police Need To Stop The Road Cowboys - And Response

Where is our highway patrol?  If they were known to regularly patrol our interstate highways through our city I don't think it would take long before the "truckers" were aware of it.  There are places in our country where this is the case.   When I have traveled Interstates 24 and 75 I may see the occasional car pulled over but rarely if ever is it an 18-wheeler. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden This July

As the month of July dawns this morning, a walk through my garden shows some flowers blooming, my marigolds dying, and the grass is greener than I thought it would be. But as I look for what’s good and what’s bad, let’s remember that some firecrackers pop while others fizzle. Here we go… A BANG to career criminal Whitely Bulger, the 85-year-old master criminal who in a recent ... (click for more)