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The state of Tennessee is located in the southeastern portion of the United States, and is the 36th most extensive state in terms of area and the 17th most populous. Tennessee is bordered by Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi. In the eastern portion of Tennessee the landscape is dominated by the Appalachian Mountains while the western state border is formed by the Mississippi River. The capital and second largest city in the state is Nashville, with a population of 609,644 residents. The states largest city is Memphis, with a population of 652,050. The total population estimate as of 2011 was 6,456,243, with the center of population centered in Rutherford County. About 78% of residents in the state are White, and 17% are Black.

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Tennessee Drug Use Trends

Tennessee is located in the Southeastern part of the United States and is home to 6,549,352 residents (2014 census). The state is rich in American history as well as being a pivotal location for the development of many forms of American popular music such as rock and roll, blues, country and rockabilly. While residents enjoy the many outdoor activities, entertainment venues and historical locations throughout the state there is a darker side to Tennessee. Prescription drug abuse and addiction has continued to escalate over the years and in 2013 it was the leading reason behind Tennessee drug rehab enrollments. This statewide problem has not gone unnoticed and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has developed a Drug Investigation Division to address and handle this epidemic.

Tennessee Prescription Drug Investigation Division

In recent years the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Drug Investigation Division has created a statewide task force focused on the diversion of prescription drugs. This task force handles issues ranging from prescription drug fraud by individuals to high level prescription drug trafficking organizations. The Drug Investigation Division encounters a broad range of violators including healthcare practitioners, patients, pain management clinics, state pharmacies, online pharmacies and street level drug dealers.

  • During 2013 in Tennessee there were:
    • 53 crimes involving fraud with false pretense to obtain Oxycodone
    • 69 crimes involving fraud with false pretense to obtain Hydrocodone
    • 120 crimes involving fraud with false pretense to obtain other prescription drugs
  • In Tennessee during 2013 there were:
    • 2,032 total drug related crimes involving Oxycodone
    • 2,237 total drug related crimes involving Hydrocodone
    • 9,334 total drug related crimes involving other prescription drugs

Prescription Drug Rehab in Tennessee

The prescription drug problem in Tennessee has created the need for additional prescription drug rehab programs in the state. During 2013, 30.9% of all the Tennessee drug rehab enrollments were for "other opiates". This category includes admissions into drug rehab for addiction to non-prescription use of methadone, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, opium and other prescription drugs with morphine like effects. Of the 4,475 individuals receiving treatment for prescription drug addiction in Tennessee during 2013, 54.8% were male and 45.1% were female. The largest age group receiving prescription drug addiction treatment in Tennessee during 2013 was between the ages of 26-30 years old.

Successfully treating prescription drug addiction involves several components such as medical detoxification, addiction counseling, developing new ways of handling life sober, relapse prevention training, and a thorough aftercare plan. While medications can help ease the discomfort associated with prescription drug withdrawal, they are not a long-term solution for sobriety. To fully recover, the individual will need to enroll in a long-term inpatient or residential treatment program to address the underlying issues connected with their substance abuse. Research shows that combining both a pharmacological approach to prescription drug addiction for a period of time with behavioral drug rehabilitation methods is the most successful approach.


Marijuana abuse is prevalent in Tennessee. With the state's sprawling and rural landscapes it is an ideal location for the domestic cultivation of marijuana. Numerous independent dealers have grown and distributed their locally cultivated marijuana for decades. Additionally, there is a significant influx of marijuana in Tennessee from Mexico. This marijuana is brought into Tennessee through southern and western states by a variety of criminal groups and gangs.

Addiction to marijuana was the second leading reason behind Tennessee drug rehab enrollments during 2013. 2,546 individuals (17.6% of all Tennessee drug rehab admissions) enrolled in drug rehab programs in Tennessee during 2013 for marijuana addiction. 74.3% of the individuals receiving marijuana addiction treatment were male and 25.7% were female. The largest age group in Tennessee drug rehab programs for marijuana addiction was between the ages of 12-17 (26.7%).

Treatment Centers

Tennessee has a number of treatment centers that are able to handle all level of substance abuse and addiction problems. Programs range from long-term care to short-term treatment and provide a number of different services. Inpatient and residential drug rehab centers typically include detoxification services in addition to their rehabilitation treatment. This allows the recovering individual to fully withdrawal from the substance they are dependent on and receive the addiction rehabilitation and treatment they require to make a real recovery. Considered to have the best success rates, long-term inpatient and residential treatment centers provide a drug-free environment, care 24/7 and a number of other amenities depending on the program one enrolls in. Tennessee also has a wide network of support groups and meetings for residents looking for additional guidance and help regaining and maintaining their sobriety. While meetings and support groups are beneficial in the recovery process, they are unable to provide the same level of intensive care as inpatient and residential treatment centers.

Population in Tennessee:5,962,959
State Prison Population in Tennessee:25,884
Probation Population in Tennessee:47,392
Violent Crime Rate in Tennessee:
National Ranking:4
2007 Federal Drug Seizures in Tennessee:
Cocaine seizures in Tennessee:378.4 kgs.
Heroin seizures in Tennessee:19.3 kgs.
Methamphetamine seizures in Tennessee:7.0 kgs.
Marijuana seizures in Tennessee:5,135.3 kgs.
Hashish seizures in Tennessee:0.0 kgs.
MDMA seizures in Tennessee:0.1 kgs./57,215 du
Meth Lab Incidents in Tennessee:539
(DEA, Tennessee, and local city Law Enforcement)
Drug Situation in Tennessee:
  • Tennessee is geographically unique because of it is border with eight other states. The interstate and state highway systems crisscross Tennessee's four major cities and traverse each of its borders. These highways have a very high volume of traffic and are a primary means of moving drugs to and through Tennessee. As a result, the drug situations in the neighboring states have an impact on the drug trafficking, availability, and abuse in Tennessee.
  • Tennessee is predominantly a "user" and transshipment state, not a major source area for any drug except domestically grown marijuana.

  • Cocaine is normally transported to Tennessee in multi-kilogram amounts from cities in the western United States and from Texas, Illinois, Georgia, and California.
  • Hamilton, Davidson, and Shelby counties are known as being cocaine distribution hubs for Tennessee.
  • Cocaine abusers in Tennessee tend to consume the drug as crack - a change from powdered cocaine HCl abuse of a few years ago, currently making crack the most popular drug of abuse among Tennessee residents.
  • Tennessee has been an area of choice for the illicit activities of structured Mexican drug trafficking organizations. These structured groups respond to command and control elements in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, El Paso, and Mexico.

  • Heroin use in Tennessee is narrowed down to a very small number of long-time users.
  • The heroin trafficking problem has remained stable in Tennessee for the past six years, though an increase in heroin availability and highway interdiction was reported recently; however, no great change in the demand for the drug is indicated by other factors in Tennessee. Texas, Georgia, and New York are the main sources of Mexican Black Tar, Mexican brown, and Southwest Asian heroin in Tennessee.

  • The availability and demand for methamphetamine continues to escalate throughout Tennessee.
  • Much of the methamphetamine consumed in Tennessee is brought in from Mexico and the Southwest Border states.
  • Clandestine methamphetamine labs can be found everywhere in Tennessee, but are mainly found in the Appalachian areas in Eastern Tennessee.
  • Methamphetamine labs are encountered less and less frequently by law enforcement in Tennessee.
  • The number of methamphetamine lab seizures has decreased significantly in Tennessee since legislation in 2005 was passed to restrict the availability of necessary ingredients for the processing of methamphetamine.
  • The methamphetamine labs that are discovered in Tennessee are generally as small and unsophisticated. However, these clandestine methamphetamine labs continue to pose a significant threat because lab operators are frequently armed and substantially involved in the drug's distribution and therefore tend to place booby traps around the sites.
  • Southeast Tennessee has had a significant increase in the activities of structured Mexican methamphetamine trafficking groups. These groups control most of the methamphetamine distribution in the Chattanooga area of Tennessee, but command and control for these Mexican organizations are frequently found in Dalton, Georgia.
  • An increase in methamphetamine use and abuse is foreseen in Tennessee as the drug gains popularity over crack cocaine use.
  • There were 539 meth lab incidents in Tennessee is 2007.

  • The abuse and use of "Club Drugs" is a growing problem in Tennessee, with MDMA (Ecstasy), LSD, and GHB being the most common drugs of abuse.
  • These drugs are typically sold at "Rave" dance parties and nightclubs and have been predominantly seen in the cities of Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee.

  • Marijuana abuse and trafficking are serious problems throughout Tennessee, especially in rural areas.
  • Tennessee is a major supplier of domestically grown marijuana, although Mexican marijuana has also been seized by Tennessee law enforcement officials. Also, according to the Appalachia HIDTA Threat Assessment, Tennessee, along with West Virginia and Kentucky, produce most of the United States' supply of domestic marijuana.
  • Prosecution of marijuana growers in the Tennessee has been extremely difficult, due to the fact that the marijuana sites detected in the Tennessee are so small that even if the owner/grower were identified, the U.S. Attorney would be reluctant to prosecute.
  • In certain areas of Tennessee, marijuana is favored over other drugs of abuse by some individuals.

  • Distribution of Ecstasy (MDMA) and LSD is escalating in Tennessee, specifically in and around the college campuses in Nashville.
  • These Club Drugs are abused mainly at "Rave" parties and nightclubs and are brought into Tennessee from New York, Georgia, and Florida.
  • Diverted pharmaceuticals are a growing problem in Tennessee where the state health care program is utilized by abusers to "doctor shop" without paying for medical care.
  • A special ARCOS report prepared for the Tennessee Medical Board showed that consumption of hydromorphone, hydrocodone, meperidine, and amphetamine was above average in the state.
  • Dilaudid and morphine are also seen as heavily abused drugs in Tennessee.

  • Current investigations report that diversion of hydrocodone products and pseudoephedrine/ephedrine continues to be a problem in Tennessee, even though the state passed and signed into law the "Meth-Free Tennessee Act of 2005" in March 2005. This law limited the sale of the pseudoephedrine-containing products in TTennessee that meth cooks depend on for the production of methamphetamine, closed a loophole that allowed for personal use of methamphetamine, and required healthcare professionals to report meth lab-related burns and injuries to law enforcement.
  • Primary methods of diversion being reported in Tennessee are illegal sale and distribution by health care professionals and workers, "doctor shopping" through the state health care program, the Internet, and forged prescriptions.
  • OxyContin, methadone, morphine, and Xanax were identified as being some the most commonly abused and diverted pharmaceuticals in Tennessee.

  • There were 306 drug violation arrests in Tennessee in 2007.

State Policy Offices : Tennessee

  • Governor's Office Office of the Governor
    State Capitol, First Floor
    Nashville, TN 37219-5081
    (615) 741-2001
  • State Legislative Contact Office of Legislative Services
    General Assembly
    State Capitol, Room G3
    Nashville, TN 37219
    (615) 741-3511
  • State Drug Program Coordinator Drug-Free Tennessee
    c/o Governor's Planning Office
    309 John Sevier Building
    Nashville, TN 37219
    (615) 741-1676

State Criminal Justice Offices : Tennessee

  • Attorney General's Office Office of the Attorney General
    450 James Robertson Parkway
    Nashville, TN 37219-5025
    (615) 741-3491
  • Crime Prevention Office Tennessee Crime Prevention Association
    Knoxville Police Department
    Crime Prevention Unit
    P.O. Box 3610
    Knoxville, TN 37927
    (615) 525-1020
  • Statistical Analysis Center Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
    1148 Foster Avenue
    Nashville, TN 37210
    (615) 726-7970
  • BJA Strategy Preparation Agency State Planning Office
    307 John Sevier Building
    500 Charlotte Avenue
    Nashville, TN 37219
    (615) 741-1676
  • Judicial Agency Supreme Court
    Supreme Court Building, Room 422
    401 Seventh Avenue North
    Nashville, TN 37219
    (615) 741-2687
  • Corrections Agency Department of Corrections
    Rachel Jackson State Office Building, Fourth Floor
    320 Sixth Avenue North
    Nashville, TN 37219-5252
    (615) 741-2071

State Health Offices : Tennessee

  • RADAR Network Agency Tennessee Alcohol and Drug Association
    Statewide Clearinghouse
    545 Mainstream Drive, Suite 404
    Nashville, TN 37228
    (615) 244-7066 or
  • HIV-Prevention Program Department of Health
    STD/HIV Program
    Tennessee Tower, 13th Floor
    312 Eighth Avenue North
    Nashville, TN 37247-4947
    (615) 741-7500
  • Drug and Alcohol Agency Tennessee Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services
    Tennessee Tower, 12th Floor
    312 Eighth Avenue North
    Nashville, TN 37247-4401
    (615) 741-1921

State Education Office : Tennessee

  • State Coordinator for Drug-Free Schools Tennessee Department of Education
    Drug-Free Schools Program
    Gateway Plaza, Sixth Floor
    710 James Robertson Parkway
    Nashville, TN 37243-0375
    (615) 741-3248

Tennessee: Substance Abuse Trends & Statistics

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Behavioral Health Barometer:

Tennessee: Substance Abuse Resources

Drug Rehab Tennessee Tennessee Dept of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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