Why does Tennessee Need to improve?

Despite recent progress, our state and our communities still compare poorly to others.

our most recent numbers


In 2018, over 1,818 people in Tennessee died from an overdose – more than motor vehicle accidents. 1,304 of the overdose deaths involved opioids, including prescription painkillers and illegal drugs such as fentanyl and heroin.  548 were attributed to prescription opioid painkillers, and 53.6% involved multiple drugs.


In 2018, there were 23,565 discharges from emergency departments and hospitals for treatment of non-fatal overdoses, more than 13 times the number of fatal overdoses.


In 2018, 927 babies born in Tennessee required hospitalization for opioid withdrawal symptoms (NWS) due to exposure to opioids in the womb before birth.   This represents a decrease from 1,906 in 2017, the first decrease since reporting began in 2013. 

HOW we compare to others

1 %

In 2018, The number of deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl increased 37.6% in Tennessee from 2017 to 2018, much higher than the 10% increase nationally.

1 %

In 2018, the Nashville Fire Department alone administered 1,777 doses of naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses, a 93% increase over 2017.  

In Knox County, first responders administered naloxone to an average of 114 people per month in 2018. Over 10% of the individuals received naloxone treatment to prevent a fatal overdose two times or more over a two-year period.


In 2018, Tennessee ranked 3rd worst in the nation for the number of opioid prescriptions per capita.  For every 100 persons, there were 81.4 prescriptions in Tennessee, compared to 51.4 nationally. Tennessee has reduced the number of filled opioid prescriptions by 33% since 2015, as well as the amount and duration of opioids prescribed.