Opioid Deaths

By Korri Manzolini

Opioid is a type of drug that includes heroin and synthetic opioid fentanyl. Other types include oxycodone, morphine, codeine, and hydrocodone. All opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and the brain. They are relatively safe if taken for a short amount of time and if prescribed by a doctor but they produce pain relief and many people become addicted and misuse, causing millions of people to die. Over the years, the rate of deaths in Tennessee has increased to 70 percent for Fentanyl, which is an extremely powerful opioid where lethal dose is no larger than a grain of sand. In 2017, at least 1,776 Tennesseans have died from drug overdose and 1, 631 the previous year, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. This is the sixth year the death toll has risen in a row. According to John Dreyzehner, a Health Commissioner in Nashville, more Tennesseans died last year from drug overdoses than from automobile crashes. Prescriptions such as Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are associated with 644 deaths. Fentanyl deaths rose to 74% in 2016 and killed 294 and 70% in 2017 that killed 500. Many addicts have been switching from prescribed pills to street drugs that are often laced with Fentanyl, which is similar to heroin but cheaper and a lot stronger, making drug dealers more profit. Buying drugs from the street are extremely dangerous because you don’t know what you are going to receive. TBI Director David Rausch stated that his agency would remain committed to try and decrease the amount of people dying and buying drugs.

The death rate for drug overdoses has tripled in the United States between 1990 and 2006. In 2016, nearly 64,000 Americans died, 174 people each day which is more than lives lost in a car accident. Worldwide, 130+ people die everyday and 11.4 million misuse prescribed drugs. Opioid overdoses have been recording for more than 42,000 deaths in 2016. There has been a substantial increase in deaths and misusing opioids in several countries around the world.

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