In the war against opioid overdose deaths, Tennessee is winning one battle — doctors are prescribing pain pills at much lower rates — but still losing other battles. Tennessee doctors prescribed 43% fewer prescription opiates in 2018 (.82 prescriptions per person) than they did in 2010 (1.4 per person), following a national pattern. The state still sees some of the country’s highest rates of pain pill prescriptions, particularly in Appalachian counties, but tougher rules have reduced the number of people who can access them and the number of pills they can get at a time.
“We have made considerable progress over these last five years, and we will always strive to balance safe and effective pain management with ending the cycle of addiction for Tennesseans by cracking down on overprescribing and pill mills,” Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said in a statement.
But the state is losing other battles. Tennesseans keep dying of overdoses, and the death rate isn’t improving.