Each day in Tennessee, at least three people die from an opioid-related overdose.
We recognize opioid misuse as a health crisis affecting our members and our neighbors across the state. And because we’re focused on the health of the people and communities we serve, we’ve been working to reduce the risks of abuse and addiction.
But there’s still more work to do to promote safety and appropriate use.
Where does Tennessee rank?
Unfortunately, Tennessee still has one of the highest rates of opioid abuse in the country.
- 3rd in the nation for opioid prescribing and
- 4th for overdose deaths
How many people die from opioids in Tennessee each year?
In 2017, there were 1,776 drug overdose deaths in Tennessee.
Of these, 1,268 were associated with opioids.
Illicit opioids are driving an increase in the death rate.
Rate of opioid overdose deaths in Tennessee
How many opioids are prescribed in Tennessee?
There are an average of 94.4 opioid prescriptions per every 100 people in Tennessee.
2017 opioid prescription rate per 100 people
In some counties in Tennessee, there are 191 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people.
Which Tennessee counties prescribe the most opioids?
The counties with the most opioid prescriptions are:
The counties with the least opioid prescriptions are:
- Van Buren
2017 opioid prescribing rates by county per 100 people
To see the full list of opioid prescriptions by county, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Is the number of opioid prescriptions in Tennessee increasing or decreasing?
- In Tennessee, prescriptions for opioids dropped 1.1 million between 2013 and 2015.
- Doctor shopping decreased by 50% between 2011 and 2015.
- Drug collection and disposal sites increased 145% between 2012 and 2016.
- Collections at Count It! Lock It! Drop It! drug take-back events increased 92% between 2015 and 2018.
How BlueCross is right here for good
BlueCross efforts have helped protect our members, resulting in 19 million fewer pills in the hands of Tennesseans since 2015. Still, there is concern about those held under the sway of substance use disorder.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, we introduced a number of policy changes to further help reduce the risk of opioid addiction. These include:
- Creating seven-day quantity limits at initial fill on short-acting opioids for acute pain
- Enhancing prior authorization requirements for short-acting opioids used for an extended period of time
- Lowering allowed morphine milligram equivalent dose (MME) to 120mg per day without authorization
- Replacing OxyContin on our covered drug list with other tamper-resistant opioid medications
- Adding benefits for alternative pain treatments, including acupuncture
Since 2012, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation has donated more than $5 million to combat the opioid epidemic.
To find out more about BlueCross opioid abuse and misuse prevention efforts, visit bcbstnews.com/opioids.
To learn more about how the opioid epidemic took hold in Tennessee, read this Q&A with Dr. Natalie Tate.
Tennessee counties by number of opioid prescriptions per 100 people: