Prescription Drug Abuse Tops Alcohol Abuse In Tennessee

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Prescription Drug Abuse Tops Alcohol Abuse In Tennessee

By Jennifer Reyes. CREATED Aug 29, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Prescription drug abuse has quickly become the biggest substance abuse problem faced by the State of Tennessee.

More people die from abusing prescription medication than they do on our state's highways. Even with this alarming statistic, only one out of eight people get the help they need.

Now, our government is looking to change that.

Substance abuse centers used to treat alcohol and illegal drugs have seen a significant increase in people seeking treatment for abuse of prescription pills.

According to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), over the past decade substance abuse admissions for prescription drugs, like hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and methadone have increased 500 percent.

"In 2010 in our treatment centers, it actually surpassed alcohol as our number one problem" said E. Douglass Varney, Commissioner of the TDMHSAS. "Two hundred, maybe as high as 250,000 people are using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. We think about 60,000 people are actually addicted to these drugs."

According to Varney, as of July 1, 2012, the number of admissions for prescription drug abuse exceeded admissions for alcohol abuse for the first time in history.

A 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health said more than 4 percent of Tennesseans over the age of 18 and approximately 12 percent of 18 to 25-year-olds reported using pain relievers recreationally in the past year.

Jennifer Reyes

Jennifer Reyes

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Jennifer Reyes joined the NewsChannel 5 team in March 2012 and reports for NewsChannel 5 at 4, 5 and 6 p.m.