Knox, Anderson counties see more than 25 percent increase in drug-related deaths

Maria 6:49 AM State

KNOXVILLE (WATE) — The Knox County Forensic Center has issued a new report comparing drug-related deaths from 2010-2016 in Knox and Anderson Counties.

The report found that the number of drug-related deaths in Knox and Anderson counties increased by more than 25 percent from 2015-2016. Ages 45-54 had the highest number of drug-related deaths during that time period, but the study also found that African American deaths and young adult deaths also doubled.

“The 2016 data shows an alarming, continuing upward trend in drug deaths in Knox and Anderson Counties,” said John Lott, Senior Director of the Knox County Regional Forensic Center. “In addition, we have seen some demographic shifts and the introduction of more illicit drugs such as Fentanyl and its analogues.”

Researchers said trends already noted in 2017 are that prescription medications continue to be the most frequently found drugs in a drug-related death. However, there is an increased presence of non-prescription (or illicit) drugs in drug-related deaths. The 25-34 year age group has the highest number of drug-related deaths in 2017.

“Drugs continue to plague our community and, while our law enforcement and other agencies are tireless in their efforts to address this issue, we continue to see more and more families affected by drug use,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “By the time someone suffering from addiction makes their way to the Knox County Regional Forensic Center, it’s too late for them. Hopefully, the data presented in this report can help our partner agencies to get help for people who need it before it’s too late.”

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