Nashville Substance Abuse Statistics

Home » Blog » Nashville Substance Abuse Statistics

Substance abuse statistics for the Nashville region and the state of Tennessee indicate that the area continues to be plagued by high rates of drug use, addiction, and overdoses.

Substance Abuse Statistics in Nashville

There is no single repository of all substance abuse statistics in Nashville, but several sources have collected information on drug use and abuse, as well as overdose deaths, in the Nashville-Davidson metro area and throughout the rest of the state.

Substance Use and Addiction

In 2019, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the following information about substance abuse among Tennessee residents ages 12 and above:

  • About 6.5% of the population – or about 367,000 people – had any type of substance use disorder (addiction).
  • About 4.3% of this group met the criteria for alcohol use disorder (alcohol addiction).
  • About 0.34% of people in this group used heroin in the past 12 months, about 3.4% abused a prescription painkiller, and about 0.9% developed an addiction to opioids.
  • About 13.3% of Tennesseans ages 12 and above used marijuana in the past year, and about 1.1% developed an addiction to the drug.

The Tennessee Department of Health has reported the following about legal prescription drug use in the Nashville-Davidson metro area:

  • The number of prescriptions for opioid-based painkillers decreased from 387,539 in 2019 to 287,085 in 2023.
  • Over the same period, the number of prescriptions for benzodiazepines fell from 221,010 to 176,922.

While these numbers don’t directly address prescription drug use abuse and addiction, reductions in the number of prescriptions suggests that fewer people may be at risk for developing a problem with opioids or benzos.

Tennessee Overdose Statistics

A Sept. 13, 2023, article in the Tennessean reported the following substance abuse statistics, focusing on overdose deaths in the Nashville area in 2022:

  • There were 754 drug overdose deaths in the Nashville area, 77% of which involved fentanyl. 
  • The annual number of overdose deaths in the Nashville area increased by more than 100% between 2017-2022. 
  • Davidson County, which is home to Nashville, had an overdose death rate of about 100 deaths per 100,000 residents
  • Baltimore, Maryland, was the only major metro area with an overdose death rate higher than Davidson County’s. 

The statistics above are consistent with a sad statewide trend, as overdose deaths throughout Tennessee rose precipitously over a recent 10-year period:

  • In 2011, the state had 17.2 overdose deaths per 100,000 people. 
  • By 2021, that rate had more than tripled, rising to 56.6 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents. 
  • More than 3,000 overdose deaths (or about 80% of the state’s total in 2021) involved opioids. 

Earlier this year, the Metro Public Health Department of Nashville/Davidson County issued a report with the following substance abuse statistics about overdoses in the Nashville area in 2023:

  • Fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, and benzodiazepines were the five most frequently detected substances in people who had overdosed.
  • Overdose deaths involving cocaine increased by 33.2% from 2022-2023.
  • About 71% of overdose deaths in Davidson County involved males, and 27% involved individuals in the 45-57 age range.
  • Among non-fatal cases, about 67% of overdose-related emergency department visits involved males, and about 30% were made by people ages 25-34.

National Substance Abuse Statistics

Many of the substance abuse statistics about Nashville, Davidson County, and Tennessee as a whole paint a relatively bleak picture. How do they compare with national trends? 

Here’s a quick look at SAMHSA data on drug use throughout the United States in 2022:

  • About one fourth of surveyed individuals (ages 12 and above) said they had used an illicit drug at least once in the previous 12 months, and about 16.5% said that they’d done so in the previous 30 days.
  • About 22% of the population aged 12 or older used marijuana at least once in the past year.
  • Just over 17% met the criteria for a diagnosis of a substance use disorder (addiction).
  • About 10.4% of the population in that age range had alcohol use disorder (alcoholism).

Here’s what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported about overdose deaths across the country in 2022:

  • There were 107,941 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2022.
  • About 75% of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. involved heroin, fentanyl, prescription painkillers, or another opioid.
  • The national age-adjusted overdose death rate was 32.6 per 100,000 people. 
  • For women, the overdose death rate was 19.4% per 100,000 people. For men, the rate was 45.6 per 100,000 people. 

Addiction Treatment Options

Not everyone who abuses alcohol or other drugs becomes addicted to them – but as the substance abuse statistics on this page indicate, many people do. 

Addiction is characterized by an inability to control your behavior around a substance. When you start using the substance, you may find it virtually impossible to stop. When you’ve gone a short period without using the substance, you may begin to develop powerful cravings and an overwhelming compulsion to use the drug again.

Once you have become dependent on a substance, you may need professional help to stop using it. Depending on a variety of personal factors, your path to successful recovery may include one or more of the following programs:

  • Detoxification
  • Residential rehab
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Intensive outpatient programming
  • Outpatient care

There’s no single course of treatment that’s right for everyone. This is why it is so important to review all your options, consult with a professional, and find the path that’s right for you.

Begin Detox in Nashville Today

Music City Detox offers life-affirming detoxification services for adults who have become addicted to alcohol, benzodiazepines, opioids, and other dangerous substances.

When you choose our detox center in Nashville, Tennessee, you will be in a safe and closely supervised environment, under the care of a team of experienced and compassionate professionals. These dedicated caregivers can keep you safe and as comfortable as possible while you take this important step toward successful, long-term recovery.

Once you’ve completed detox, we can help you determine the best next step in your treatment journey, then refer you to a trusted provider who can help you build on the progress you made while you were in our care.

To learn more, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.