KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Regional Forensic Center has released its 2019 drug-related death report and with it, some good news: Last year, the number of drug-related deaths in Knox County decreased by nearly 10%.

Also, in Anderson County, drug overdoses dropped by more than 11%.

“The overdose epidemic in Knox County, which is analogous to the national epidemic overall,
continues to grow in magnitude, but is also changing its character. In 2019, 293 people died from drug overdose in Knox County and 28 people died in Anderson County.

Preliminary data for drug deaths in 2020 does, unfortunately, indicate an upward trend for drug-related death cases in Knox
County. Drug overdose deaths increasingly involve synthetic opioids (fentanyl and fentanyl analogs) with the numbers of prescription opioids (oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone,etc.)

Knox County Regional Forensic Center 2019 Drug Related Deaths report

As reported earlier this week, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a slight increase in 2020 so far, with 219 suspected overdose deaths reported in Knox County.

According to the death report, the most common drug leading to an overdose death is Fentanyl; although the forensic center reports most overdoses are due to multiple drugs in a person’s system — this is called “polypharmacy.”

The five most common substances identified in drug-related deaths are synthetic opioids (like Fentanyl), methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and alcohol. Also, the majority of the deaths were male, at 64% for both Knox and Anderson counties.

Other key findings in the report — people ages 45 to 54 experienced the most drug-related deaths in Knox County; with the sharpest increase in people ages 35 to 44. The sharpest decrease was people ages 15 to 24 and 25 to 34.

Prescription opioid-related deaths also continued to decrease in 2019.

Read the full report below: