It's pretty sobering to think that Tennessee has one of the highest rates of drug related traffic fatalities in the nation.
Statistics show that alcohol related fatal accidents have declined by 30 per cent. Shockingly, over the past decade, the number of fatal car accidents in Tennessee have exploded 304 per cent.
Tennessee ranks 14th in the country with the most alcohol or drug related deaths. In addition, the Volunteer State saw a 2.8 per cent increase in police reported drug-related deaths over the past decade.
Media Relations Associate Rita Murphy reports, "Drivers in Tennessee will be interested to know which drugs are on the road in their community.
Perhaps the most striking surge, however, came with crashes caused by opioids. This all fits with the OPIOD CRISIS that is exploding here.
In addition, accidents involving oxycodone were up 124.3 percent in 2016 relative to 2007 totals. Fentanyl's spike was even more dramatic, with a 304 percent increase over that period.
Although it may still contribute to many fatal crashes, cocaine's influence on the road seems to have declined substantially over the last 10 years. While crashes caused by amphetamines and methamphetamines also saw small dips in the 2000s, they increased overall between 2007 and 2016. The largest percentage increases, however, occurred with depressants. Accidents caused by alprazolam, or Xanax were 173 percent higher in 2016 than in 2007.
The Opiod Crisis was addressed locally by State Representative Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro, MD) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville, MD). Both of these legislative physicians sponsored legislation that is a critical part of the conversation and will go a long way toward improving treatment options.
"It is important that our laws are keeping up with medical innovations when it comes to treating addiction," Dickerson said. "In fighting the epidemic, we also must be sure we're treating the patients, and this bill aims to do that.
This law gives health care providers in consultation with their patients more options when making treatment decisions.
"This bill helps increase compliance and decrease relapse rates for patients receiving addiction treatment. At the same time we're decreasing the possibility of diversion," Terry said. "I am proud to have been part of this effort."
Last year, roughly 11.6 million adults misused opioids in the U.S., and opioid overdose is now the leading cause of death among people under the age of 50 in America. In Tennessee, the death rate from opioid overdose was up 19 percent in 2015 from the prior year according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
NewsRadio WGNS will keep you informed on the ways the Volunteer State is working to reduce this major issue.