Tennessee Struggles With Prescription Drug Abuse Problem
Prescriptions for controlled substances in Tennessee jumped 23 percent from 2010 to 2011, the Associated Press reports. The increase occurred despite efforts to address the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic.
A report provided to the state’s General Assembly shows almost 18 million prescriptions for opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone were dispensed in the state last year.
“We’re in jeopardy of losing an entire generation of our youth to addiction if we don’t get a grip on this,” Tommy Farmer, Assistant Special Agent in charge of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, told the AP.
According to an analysis by the AP, oxycodone sales increased five- or six-fold per capita in most of the state from 2000 to 2010. Officials are now projecting that requests for treatment for prescription drug abuse will surpass the need for alcohol treatment by 2013, according to state Mental Health Commissioner Doug Varney.
The vast majority of the 887 drug overdose deaths in Tennessee in 2010 involved prescription drugs, up from 644 in 2005, the article notes.
In August 2011, four states— Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia—announced they had created the Interstate Prescription Drug Task Force to fight the region’s prescription drug abuse problem.
The task force consists of about 30 experts from drug agencies and law enforcement, who are developing strategies to reduce the sale and abuse of prescription drugs. They said they will make recommendations to improve cooperation in sharing data, educational campaigns and police investigations.