TBI sounds the alarm on counterfeit drugs and addiction

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – Overdoses and Counterfeit pills are on the rise in the Volunteer state, and early data shows they have increased to an alarming new level, causing officials to sound the alarm 

On Monday, the TBI, health department, and other organizations gathered to discuss the rapidly rising rates of overdoses and illegal drugs. 

“Sounding the alarm once again of the dangers of drug addiction. Let me be clear. If you are buying pills on the street and in our state you are gambling,” says David Rausch, TBI.

For the first time in several years, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration recently issued a public safety alert due to the dangerous flood of fake prescription pills. Last month, the DEA reported more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills have been seized this year.

The TBI says The pills are usually mass-produced in labs illegally overseas — then marketed to look like real prescription drugs. These black-market pills often contain dangerous drugs like fentanyl and meth.

“In 2020 we lost 3,032 Tennesseans to deadly Overdoses and that’s is an alarming 45% increase from 2019- 2020. That even exceeds the national increase of 30% in the same time period,” says Dr. Lisa Piercey, Tennessee Department of Health.

The Tennessee Department of Health says that overdoses have occurred primarily in the 35-44 age range and have involved fentanyl and meth.

“What’s clear and it’s something we have known for a long time is that our state doesn’t just have a counterfeit pill problem, an opioid problem, or a methamphetamine problem. We have an addiction problem,” says Marie Williams, TN department of mental health and substance abuse.

The TBI‘s forensic scientists have found that half of the “oxycodone” tablets received as evidence contain fentanyl, not oxycodone.

If you or someone you know has an addiction, help is available. 

Those seeking help may call the Tennessee Redline at 1-800-889-9789 or text SAVE to 30678 to download the TN Recovery app to connect people struggling with addiction and their family members to available resources.

Categories: Chattanooga, Crime, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News