Drug deaths increase in Knox, Anderson

Jay FitzAnderson, Our Town Health

Knox County Regional Forensic Center has released its 2021 Drug-Related Death Report for Knox and Anderson counties. The report includes data on drug-related death cases the Center investigated from 2012-2021 and is shared to advance the discussion regarding addiction.


“2021 was a tough year for a lot of people,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs. “Sadly, many of those battling addiction were without the help and support they needed, and the numbers in this report reflect that.”

The number of overdose deaths in Knox County increased 29 percent in 2021 on top of a 41 percent increase in 2020. In Anderson County, drug overdose deaths increased 67 percent in 2021 on top of an 81 percent increase in 2020.

Mixed drug intoxications led the way, but fentanyl, fentanyl analogues and some of the novel synthetic opioids continue to be the most abused drugs. Among the stimulants, methamphetamine is the drug of choice either alone or in combination with opioids.

“Last year we elaborated on the new novel synthetic drugs,” said Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan, chief medical examiner. “There are more of them on the market this year and they are deadlier than ever – alone or in combination with other drugs. Snorting and/or intravenous drug abuse continue to be the predominant modes of intake in drug intoxication deaths.”

Dr. Mileusnic-Plochan said many of the deceased individuals had gone through different drug rehab programs, only to go back to their previous ways shortly after the last session.

“The overdose epidemic in Knox County, like across the nation, continues to grow in magnitude and new stronger drugs are making it worse,” said Chris Thomas, director of the Knox County Regional Forensic Center. “Preliminary data for drug-deaths in 2022 unfortunately indicate an even more upward trend for drug-related death cases in Knox County.”

As outlined in the full text of the report, the data is drawn only from drug-related deaths in Knox and Anderson Counties between 2012 and 2021 that were investigated by the medical examiner. Some key findings from the report include:

The full report is available here.

 

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