The opioid crisis has reached a point that is impossible to ignore. Opioid abuse has skyrocketed in Tennessee, destroying lives and posing a serious health threat to communities in Nashville and surrounding areas. In October 2017, the White House declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.
Fast Facts About Opioid Abuse In Tennessee
While numbers can never tell the full story, these statistics shine an unforgiving light on the tragedy that has begun to unfold in Tennessee over the last decade…
- Tennessee had the 2nd highest prescription rate for opioids in 2016 (source).
- That same year, there were 1,186 opioid-related overdose deaths in Tennessee – 18.1 deaths per 100,000 persons. For comparison, the national rate for 2016 was 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons (source).
- Deaths from heroin overdose in Tennessee have increased since 2010 from 17 to 260 (source).
Our Commitment at St. Thomas Medical Group
Doctors at St. Thomas Medical Group are committed to safe opioid prescription practices. This includes:
- Showing preference to nonpharmacologic therapy and non-opioid pharmacologic therapy prior to prescribing opioids.
- Establishing clear treatment goals prior to prescribing opioids. Prescriptions should only continue if the improvements in pain and function outweigh the risks to the patient’s safety.
- Clearly discussing with patients the risks and benefits of opioid therapy v. non-opioid therapy.
Learn more about safe guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain with this resource from the CDC.
Get Help for Opioid Abuse
If you or someone you know struggles with opioid abuse, help is available. At least three Tennesseans die each day from an opioid-related overdose, reports the Tennessee Hospital Association. Even more visit their local hospital emergency room for care. If you need help, call the Tennessee REDLINE at +1 (800) 889-9789. This resource operates “a 24/7 addiction treatment and recovery hotline that connects Tennessee residents with state funded, addiction treatment and recovery services.”
If you need help, we also encourage you to talk to your Nashville doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group to find out what resources may be available to you. If nothing else, remember the following (via Tennessee Department of Health):
- Opioids are highly addictive.
- Abuse, addiction and overdose can happen to anyone.
- There are pain management alternatives.
- Just because a doctor prescribed you opioids, it does not mean that they are 100% safe.
- Opioids are not ideal for long-term pain relief.
- Never take prescription drugs that were not prescribed for you by a doctor.