The number of drug-related deaths in Anderson and Knox counties increased in 2021, according to the just-released 2021 Drug-Related Death Report for Knox and Anderson Counties by the Knox County Regional Forensic Center. The Center serves as the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office for both counties, which is why Anderson County’s numbers are included.
Last year, 85 people died in Anderson County compared to 51 in 2020, while 533 people died from drug overdoses in Knox County compared to 413 in 2020.
Drug overdose deaths increasingly involve synthetic opioids (fentanyl and fentanyl analogs) with decreasing numbers of prescription opioids (oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, etc.).
Here is a look at some of the highlights of the report for Knox and Anderson Counties:
• Knox County had a 29% increase in drug-related deaths from 2020 to 2021.
• Anderson County had a 67% increase in drug-related deaths from 2020 to 2021.
• Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues (synthetic opioids) were the most frequently identified drugs in drug-related deaths in 2021.
• Polypharmacy, which is when more than one drug is responsible for death, was involved in 76% of drug-related deaths Knox County and Anderson County, separately.
• The five most common drugs identified in drug-related deaths in 2020 were synthetic opioids, methamphetamine, diphenhydramine, alcohol/ethanol, and cocaine.
• Prescription opioid-related deaths continue to decrease in our jurisdictions.
• The presence of anxiety, anti-depressant, and anti-psychotic medication was found in 30% of all drug deaths in Knox County and 38% of all drug deaths in Anderson County.
Most drug-related deaths in Anderson County occurred in the age group of 35 to 44, with 26 recorded fatalities, while 16 deaths occurred in both the 25-34 age range and 45-54. 61% of the people who died in Anderson County were male, according to the report, which you can see in its entirety here.