Opioid Overdose: America’s New Epidemic

Usage Graph
Usage Graph

The United States is in the midst of a devastating opioid overdose epidemic. Opioids (i.e. street heroin and prescription narcotic pain medication like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl, etc.) are killing 91 Americans every day, and the death toll continues to rise each year. Overdose deaths have reached a record high at over 33,000 deaths in 2015. Some college students may experiment with taking opioid pills recreationally, which puts them at higher risk for opioid addiction and overdose. In fact, the CDC reports that heroin use has more than doubled over the past decade among the 18 to 25 year old age group.

What is being done to prevent opioid overdose deaths?


  • Stricter opioid prescribing protocols to keep medical providers from prescribing inappropriate or excessive opioids
  • Centralized drug monitoring database used by medical providers and pharmacists to track patients’ prescriptions and ensure that patients are not visiting multiple providers to obtain opioid prescriptions – known as “doctor shopping”
  • Drug take-back programs are available in many communities providing a safe place to dispose of opioids and other controlled substances ; To find a location near you, visit: https://www.tn.gov/behavioral-health/article/Prescription-Drug-Take-Back-Boxes
  • Legalization of take-home naloxone to provide individuals at-risk for opioid overdose and their friends/family with the opioid antidote so that those most likely to witness an opioid overdose will be able to identify signs of overdose, administer the naloxone, and call 911, so the overdose victim has a better chance of survival.
TN Stats
TN Stats

If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction and would like resources on how to get addiction treatment or training on take-home naloxone, you may schedule an appointment with Dr. Kathryn Mitchell at Health Services clinic by making an appointment in your Health Portal.

You may also contact Dr. Mitchell via email: Kathryn.mitchell@belmont.edu

Helpful resources: