Tenn. report shows another increase in overdose deaths, experts say they're not surprised
Kyle Hollowell, an Alumni and Outreach Coordinator for Focus Healthcare, speaks with Isaiah Kim-Martinez about a state report that shows another increase in overdose deaths. (Image: WTVC)

Tennessee’s annual overdose report shows more than 1,800 died from a drug overdose in 2018, yet another increase from the previous year.

According to the report, even though the number of deaths from prescription opioid overdoses (painkillers) decreased in back-to-back years, “deaths due to heroin and fentanyl have continued to rise.” In fact, the report reveals more Tennesseans died from the illicit drug, fentanyl, by itself than all prescription opioids combined.

NewsChannel 9 spoke to experts in Chattanooga today who say not only are they not surprised by this troubling trend, but they’ve also seen the pandemic correlate with a recent local increase in overdose cases. They say the problem is seemingly getting worse.

"There's been a lot of forced isolation, and unfortunately isolation is a real fuel for addiction," said Debbie Loudermilk, the Director of Outpatient Services at CADAS rehab center.

Watch Isaiah Kim-Martinez's 5:30 p.m. report. (WTVC)

They say people being forced to isolate – all while receiving unemployment checks – has put those addicted, and those recovering, in vulnerable spots.

"A lot of people are struggling from the connection they'd be able to get from leaving their houses," said Kyle Hollowell, the Alumni and Outreach Coordinator at Focus Treatment Center.

See the full report here.

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