Tennesseans prefer pain meds as drug of choice - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tennesseans prefer pain meds as drug of choice

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A state-wide review of 20 years worth of state-funded substance abuse treatment data, collected from 1992 to 2012, confirms a trend of prescription drug abuse across several age groups.

The data also shows many middle-aged Tennesseans prefer alcohol. Marijuana is the primary ‘high’ of choice among those in their 20’s and 30’s, but prescription meds continue to be the drug of choice across most age groups.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, who released the findings, concludes Tennesseans are increasing their consumption of prescription pain medicine, regardless of age.

“Prescription drug use increased among all the age groups we looked at, and jumped significantly among those in their 20s and 30s,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “It’s especially concerning to see the data on Tennesseans in their 50s and older, who for years were primarily abusing alcohol, getting hooked on prescription opioids.”

State Funded Treatment Admission Data 1992 – 2012

  • 59% of 21-24 year olds list Rx Drugs as their primary substance of abuse
  • 49% of 30-34 year olds list Rx Drugs as their primary substance of abuse
  • 21% of 50-54 year olds list Rx Drugs as their primary substance of abuse

 
Drug Treatment Admission Trends in Tennessee 1992 – 2012

  • Admissions among 12 - 14 year olds in 2001 showed heavy use of marijuana. As they moved into their 20s, they maintained their use of marijuana, increased their abuse of prescription drugs and reduced their use of alcohol and cocaine.
  • Admissions among those in their early to mid-30s today, who in their late-teens were primarily seeking treatment for abusing alcohol and marijuana, are now primarily listing prescription pain medicine as their drug of choice, and reducing  their use of alcohol, cocaine and marijuana.
  • In 1992 Tennesseans who were in their mid-30s primarily sought treatment for an addiction to alcohol. Now in their mid-50s, alcohol continues to be the most frequently listed substance of abuse for these Tennesseans. This age group has increased their prescription drug use and decreased the use of alcohol and cocaine.

Information about admissions to state-funded substance abuse treatment are available from 1992 to 2012. For each admission, a patient can list up to three substances of abuse. 

For more information, visit www.tn.gov/behavioral-health

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