Alcohol & Drug Statistics

Tennessee’s need for recovery programs with evidence-based practices and recovery housing has never been so dire

Addiction is a significant problem in our country and in Tennessee as it is our #1 health crisis we currently face.  According to the Tennessean (June 15, 2016): “Tennessee officials continue to grapple with the growing abuse of opioids, overdose deaths and babies born addicted.  We’re going in the right direction, but we’re not going fast enough, said Dr. Mitchell Mutter, Medical Director of Special Projects for the Tennessee Department of Health.” ”Opioid abuse remains the state’s #1 public health crisis and more people in the state have died from opioid overdoses than in car accidents or by gunshot wounds in 2014. Opioid abusers often turn to heroin when they cannot afford or access enough opioids to keep up with their addiction.”

Here are some current realities

The Prevalence of substance abuse in Tennessee [Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS)]

  • An estimated 8.27% of Tennessee adults (391,000 people) abused or were dependent on alcohol or illicit drugs in the last year.
  • Drug abuse among young adults 18-25 years old is increasing – they use prescription opioids at a 30% higher rate than the national average.
  • Heroin use is growing at an alarming rate. Between 2011 and 2014, admissions into state-funded treatment increased 157%.
  • Overwhelmingly, Tennesseans do not get the treatment they need: In 2014, only 4% of Tennessee adults in need of addiction treatment actually received services.
  • Without treatment, more individuals become involved in the criminal justice system: One third of arrests made in Tennessee in 2012 were drug related.
  • Overdose Deaths: There has been a 220% increase in the number of drug overdose deaths since 1999, growing from 342 in 1999 to 1,094 in 2012.
  • Treatment Costs: It is estimated that the cost of providing state-funded treatment services to individuals that abuse prescription drugs and live below the poverty level would cost $27,933,600.
  • Only one out of every 10 Tennesseans that need substance abuse treatment receives it. (TAADAS)
  • More than 29% of Emergency Room admissions are opioid involved and medical emergencies resulting from drug abuse increased 132% over the last seven years. (TAADAS)
  • Nationally without treatment, more individuals are unable to get and keep gainful employment; furthermore, there is more absenteeism, lost productivity, theft, injuries and increased employer costs: Drug abuse costs $81 billion annually.

Substance Abuse and Homelessness

  • Substance abuse is often a cause of homelessness. Addictive disorders disrupt relationships with family and friends and often cause people to lose their jobs. For people who are already struggling to pay their bills, the onset or exacerbation of an addiction may cause them to lose their housing. (National Coalition for the Homeless, July 2009).
  • According to Didenko and Pankratz (2007), “two-thirds of homeless people report that drugs and/or alcohol were a major reason for their becoming homeless.”
  • Many Americans with substance abuse dependencies, both housed and homeless, do not receive the treatment they need. In fact, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) estimated that over 19.3 million people needed, but did not receive, addiction treatment services.
  • A survey by the United States Conference of Mayors found that68 percent of cities reported that substance abuse was the largest cause of homelessness for single adults. Substance abuse was also reported as one of the top three causes of family homelessness by 12 percent of cities. (National Alliance to end Homelessness, Opioid Abuse and Homelessness, April 5, 2016)

Family Homelessness Facts

  • One in five American women (compare to one in three men) abuses or becomes dependent upon alcohol and/or drugs at some point in her life. [Substance Abuse and the American Woman, The Center of alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (CASA)]
  • 53% of homeless mothers do not have a high school diploma (Green Doors – FACTS)
  • Over 92% of homeless mothers have experienced severe physical and/or sexual abuse during their lifetime. (Green Doors – FACTS)

        Women, Pregnant and Addicted

  • With 79,954 live births to women in Tennessee in 2013 and an expected rate of opiate use at 5.4% of those women (among pregnant women aged 15-44, 5.4% were current illicit drug users based on data averaged across 2012 and 2013 – SAMHSA). 4,318 pregnant women will need access to addiction treatment each year in Tennessee. (TAADAS – Opportunities to address pregnancy, drug use and the law, November 2015).
  • Studies have cited pregnancy and the need to care for children and families to be a primary motivation for women to enter addiction treatment. A study of drug-using women between 2000 and 2007 found that pregnant women were more than four times as likely as non-pregnant women to express greater motivation for treatment.  (TAADAS – Opportunities to address pregnancy, drug use and the law, November 2015).

Mental Health illness and Co-occurring Disorders

  • Those who are mentally ill are more likely to abuse drugs and/or alcohol. The two issues often go hand in hand. According to SAMHSA, 26.7% of people with mental health issues abused illicit drugs in 2012. In the general public, only 13.2% of people abused drugs.
  • People who are at risk for mental illness increase that risk when they chronically abuse drugs.Mental health risk factors include genetics, the environment, major life experiences and other things. People who already have high risk factors can be “pushed” into the mental illness by chronic substance abuse. (
  • Both drug use disorders and other mental illnesses are caused by overlapping factors such as underlying brain deficits, genetic vulnerabilities, and/or early exposure to stress or trauma. (National Institute on Health)