Tennessee has one of the highest rates of prescription drug abuse


prescription drugs/photo submitted

By Sharry Dedman-Beard

U.S. Attorneys and leaders of federal law enforcement agencies from across six states met in Detroit on August 26, 2015, to share strategies to combat the heroin and prescription pill epidemic across the region.

The effort was announced jointly William C. Killian, Eastern District of Tennessee, David Rivera, Middle District of Tennessee, Edward Stanton, Western District of Tennessee, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Detroit Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Marlon Miller, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Detroit.  U.S. Attorney Hickton also co-chairs the national Heroin Task Force.

The summit was called in response to the national epidemic of heroin and prescription pill abuse that has hit Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, particularly hard. Heroin overdose deaths in the United States have tripled from 2010 to 2013. Nationally, the number of deaths from all drug overdoses exceeded 43,000 last year, more deaths than from traffic accidents. Heroin use in the United States has doubled from 2007 to 2012.

One of the purposes of the summit is to discuss a regional strategic initiative as part of the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. Under this initiative, law enforcement and prosecutors across the region will investigate and prosecute the movement of heroin and prescription pills from Michigan and Ohio into Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. The initiative also includes a commitment by each U.S. Attorney to engage in district-wide anti-heroin and prescription pill programs.

U.S. Attorney Killian said, “Tennessee has one of the highest rates of prescription drug abuse in the country. However, like many other states, we are now seeing a rise in heroin use as the prescription drugs are becoming more expensive and difficult to obtain. This summit was convened to help find ways to strengthen the coordinated efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement in their fight against these growing addictions and the resulting rise in overdose deaths.”

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