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Opioid crisis touching all of U.S.
Bryan Herriman of CHEER Mental Health Center in McMinnville.
Congress is taking a hard look at the opioid crisis facing America -- an issue that is confronting every town in the Volunteer State, according to Bryan Herriman of CHEER Mental Health Center in McMinnville, an agency of Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System.According to Herriman, the opioid epidemic, as it is described by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, is touching all of the U.S. Herriman says no town is immune.“As a community member, it’s really easy to see an increase in drug-related problems,” said Herriman.Information provided by the Tennessee Department of Health shows that in Tennessee alone deaths from drug overdoses jumped 12 percent in 2016 from the previous year and claimed at least 1,631 lives.The number of deaths caused by drug overdoses in 2015 was 1,451. Of those deaths, 72 percent were blamed on opioid overdoses.The death toll from drug overdoses in Tennessee has risen consistently for the past six years with the most substantial increases beginning in 2013.The CDC says more than 500,000 lives nationwide were lost to opioid abuse in 2015.Authorities have reported that in Tennessee more than 6 million opioid prescriptions were written in 2015, a number that exceeds the state’s population. Between 2010 and 2015, opioid abuse claimed the lives of 6,039 Tennesseans.Often reported opioid overdoses in Tennessee have proven to be not from street drugs like heroin but rather from prescriptions written by licensed physicians for what's commonly recognized as pain pills.In many cases prescriptions for opioids are written by physicians when patients complain of chronic pain associated with back, shoulder or other joint ailments.