Rise in Drug-Related Arrests in Tennessee

A significant number of arrests Nationally are drug-related. Drug-related arrests in Tennessee are also common. 80% of Tennessee crimes are drug-related. In 2016, 24% of Americans on probation had been arrested for a drug-related crime. Comparatively, 4% of Americans on parole had been arrested for a drug-related crime. In 2007, about 1,841,200 people were arrested for drug or alcohol-related crimes. However, this rate of imprisonment and arrests has not always been this high. Between 1980 and 2007, arrests for substance abuse increased by about 1,300,000 arrests per year. In 1980, law enforcement arrested 580,900 people for drugs. In 1981, the number of arrests decreased to 559,900 in 1981. Following the low in 1981, the arrests skyrocketed to 1,889,800 in 2006. Then, the arrests decreased to 1,841,200 in 2007.

In the 1980s, possession of heroin and cocaine most often led to arrests. However, in the early 2000s, possession of marijuana led to the most arrests. Arrests for heroin and cocaine peaked in 1989 with 732,600 arrests. By 2007, 541,300 people were arrested for heroin and cocaine. Comparatively, marijuana-related arrests began at 455,600 in 1980 and increased to 872,700 in 2007. During this time, arrests for synthetic drugs also increased. In 1980, police arrested 24,800 people for synthetic drugs. In 2007, police arrested 88,400 people for synthetic drugs. Clearly, many people in the US are being arrested for drug-related crimes. These crimes usually include possession of illegal substances or selling illegal substances. If you would like more information about drug-related arrests in Tennessee or treatment options in Tennessee, please call us at 901-403-7925.

Statewide and National Programs

The federal government has provided federal grants for use in Tennessee to help fight drugs in the state. As of 2012, the federal government had provided $181,935,070 to Tennessee through grants. The purpose of each of these grants is to help reduce the availability and misuse of harmful substances in Tennessee. For example, Tennessee’s National Institutes of Health received $6,158,124 to carry out alcohol research programs. Another preventative program includes educational structure to help children learn the danger of drugs. Other funds provide safety for youth and children affected by substance abuse. Further, some funds go into mental health and substance abuse programs. Each of these pieces enables Tennesseans to prevent substance abuse through education. Further, the programs also provide treatment when needed.

Tennessee Initiatives

Additionally, the state has created different response methods for different regions of Tennessee. For instance, Appalachian Tennessee has its own task force. The Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) focuses on stopping drug trafficking in the eastern part of Tennessee. The HIDTA targets 29 Tennessean counties out of 65 total counties in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Appalachian areas are often at risk for drug-related arrests in Tennessee because of their demographics. These include a low median family income and a relatively high unemployment rate.

Another Tennessee initiative is the Governor’s Task Force on Marijuana Eradication (GTFME). Founded in 1983, this task force combines the efforts of the Tennessee Bureau Investigation, Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the Tennessee National Guard. Ultimately, this task force strives to find and arrest those using and selling marijuana.

National Programs

Finally, national programs contribute to the preventative measures and services offered throughout the US, including in states like Tennessee. Some of these programs are the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Drug Crimes in Tennessee

As stated above, 80% of crimes in Tennessee are drug-related. Clearly, quality addiction prevention and treatment are essential. Although drug addiction is a problem in Tennessee generally, each substance brings its own problems and potential for solutions. Meth, heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioids are four substances that bring unique challenges and concerns.

Dangers of Meth

Meth is a dangerous and highly addictive synthetic drug. The crystal-shaped substance affects the nervous system. Short-term effects include a loss in appetite, faster breathing, irregular or rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, higher body temperature, and more wakefulness. Additionally, meth can cause irreversible and devastating damage to the body. For example, those who use meth are at a higher risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis. Further, meth often damages users’ teeth and gums. Finally, meth can lead to violent and risky behavior, which often leads to harming oneself or someone else. Beyond harming the users themselves, meth also causes environmental damage from toxic chemicals. Further, shutting down meth labs costs thousands of dollars.

Seizure of Methamphetamine Labs

Now that you understand the dangers of meth, we can understand how Tennessee is addressing this drug problem. In the 1990s and early 2000s, there was a significant meth problem in Tennessee. However, law enforcement began finding and shutting down many Tennessee meth labs. The number of meth lab seizures increased in Tennessee by 178% between 2008 to 2011. To put this in perspective, law enforcement seized 828 meth labs in 2008 and 2,302 in 2011. In Tennessee today it is estimated that 800 meth labs are in operation.

According to the United States Drug Administration, law enforcement has continued to seize several meth labs in Tennessee. In recent years, law enforcement has seized about 130 labs in the Knoxville area. Further, there have been about 217 labs seized in the Chattanooga area. In the Nashville area, there have been about 73 seizures of meth labs. Finally, in the Memphis area, there have been about 47 seizures of meth labs.

Heroin and Fentanyl

Although meth is incredibly common in Tennessee, meth is not the only drug problem in the state. As Tennessee’s meth problem gradually slows down, Tennessee’s heroin problem picks up. In 2018, 14,996 Americans died of a heroin-related overdose. Comparatively, in Tennessee, 369 people died of heroin-related overdoses in 2018. Tennessee’s rate of death rose between 2017 and 2018. Since heroin is an illegal substance, law enforcement in Tennessee works hard to eradicate the substance from the state.

When users lace heroin with another narcotic called fentanyl, the drug becomes even more dangerous. Fentanyl is even more powerful than heroin. If users even absorb pure fentanyl through the skin, they could die. The synthetic opioid is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times stronger. In Tennessee, deaths involving a non-methadone opioid increased from 590 deaths in 2017 to 827 deaths in 2018. Fentanyl and fentanyl analogs fall into this category. Law enforcement officials in Tennessee are aware of the dangers of fentanyl, as they are aware of the dangers of heroin.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Finally, prescription drug abuse also concerns law enforcement officials in Tennessee. The opioid epidemic has swept through the US, and Tennessee has been severely impacted. As of 2018, Tennessee had the third-highest prescribing rate in the country. This means that Tennessee providers prescribed opioids to 81.8 out of every 100 patients. This rate exceeds the national rate. In the US, doctors prescribed every 51.4 people opioids out of every 100 patients. However, Tennessee officials work hard to treat opioid use disorders.

Currently, three programs are dedicated to preventing and treating opioid use disorder in Tennessee. First, Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) track substances prescribed by healthcare professionals. They also track those substances dispensed by pharmacies. Ultimately, the Tennessee Controlled Substances Monitoring Program helps to provide the early warning signs of drug misuse and of a local opioid epidemic. Second, the Tennessee Controlled Substances Monitoring Program gives healthcare professionals prescription data specific to each patients. This helps physicians to evaluate patients and confirm a patient’s drug history. Ultimately, this program prevents physicians from prescribing opioids to those at risk of opioid addiction. Finally, Drug Take-Back Programs enable the disposal of drugs that are unneeded and unused. This means that physicians won’t feel pressured to prescribe medications that patients don’t need.

Substance Abuse Treatment in Prison

Some prisons and jails offer detox and rehab services to inmates. Currently, 53 correctional facilities (jail or prison) offer substance abuse treatment to inmates. The National Institute of Justice set up these programs. The overall objective of these programs is to help inmates with substance abuse recovery, mental health treatment, wellness education, and other services. Further, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP) offers other substance abuse treatments. The FBP’s goal is to help inmates reduce their levels of criminality, recidivism, and relapse. Further, they want to help inmates learn more about drug abuse, improve their personal relationships, and increase their ability to find a job once they leave the correctional facility. Unfortunately, correctional facilities in Tennessee don’t offer any of these programs.

Although there are some programs and treatments in place for inmates who suffer from addiction, inmates need more services than correctional facilities now offer. According to a study by the American Public Health Association, 65% of inmates in the US need addiction treatment. However, only 11% of those inmates receive the treatment they need. Clearly, those suffering from addiction need more support than they currently receive. The inmates who don’t receive treatment risk falling back into addiction once they leave prison or jail.

According to a study published by the Notre Dame Law Review, “If addiction is a biopsychosocial problem which endures in the face of punishment, then no amount of jail time, probation, fines, or other types of traditional criminal justice sanctions will prevent the addict from repeating drug abuse behavior.” Drug courts are one possible solution to treating the addiction and effectively addressing an inmate’s medical condition.

Drug Courts

Although correctional facilities in Tennessee do not offer addiction treatment programs, the state does have several drug courts. While most court proceedings criminalize substance abuse, drug courts take a public health approach. These judicially supervised courts give a sentencing alternative for treatment and supervision rather than imprisonment. Drug courts especially help those who suffer from a mental illness as well as a substance abuse disorder. Additionally, for drug-related arrests in Tennessee, there are 47 adult drug treatment programs from drug courts. Additionally, there is one misdemeanor adult treatment court and there are five juvenile drug treatment programs from drug courts. Also, drug courts provide a way for different communities such as law enforcement, judiciary, prosecution, mental health, social service, and treatment to work together. Ultimately, drug courts help people achieve long-term recovery.

If you want to learn more about drug courts, drug-related arrests in Tennessee, or addiction treatment in Tennessee, please give us a call today. You can reach us at 901-403-7925.