Kristi L Nelson Knoxville News Sentinel
Published 11:53 AM EDT Sep 12, 2018
Knox and Anderson counties saw a jump of more than 41 percent in the total number of drug-related deaths between 2016-2017 — and fentanyl, as expected, was the most common culprit.
The number of deaths in which fentanyl and its analogues specifically were found increased 179 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to the Knox County Regional Forensic Center’s 2017 Drug-Related Death Report for the two counties. The annual report, released Wednesday, looks at data on drug-related death cases the center investigated from 2010 through 2017.
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“The 2017 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.”
In 2017, the number of black residents of Knox and Anderson counties whose deaths were drug-related saw a 113 percent increase over 2016.
And the 45-to-54-year-old age category again accounted for the highest number of deaths but still increased significantly — along with all other ages, the report said.
More: Annual event remembers those lost to overdose, offers hope to those still struggling
In more than 60 percent of the drug deaths, more than one drug was found, it said.
“Unfortunately, the drug epidemic in our community continues to spiral out of control,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said in a news release. “While our law enforcement and other agencies are tireless in their efforts to address this issue, it’s apparent that a community-wide approach is necessary if we are to stop this disturbing trend. Hopefully, the (information) presented in this report can help initiate a larger conversation that leads to a definitive plan of action to stop the growing drug problem.”
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