As Tennessee celebrated four years of general crime declines last month, a devil was lost in the details: Drug crimes rose to their second-highest number in 11 years, The Tennessean reports. The story was repeated across the Nashville area, possible fallout from the state's battle against prescription drugs and methamphetamine. The prescription drug problem could be fueling a growing appetite for heroin, law enforcement officials said.
“It is probably no surprise to law enforcement or anyone who reads the newspaper every day that drug violations are up, especially with the methamphetamine problem the state has been facing and the surge of prescription pills being diverted,” said Kristin Helm of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The problem is felt in homes as well. As police have dealt with more drug cases, so have rehabilitation centers, which are ushering in a new generation of drug addicts. “That's exactly what we're seeing. I see younger and younger kids that are exposed to opioids, typically prescription opioids,” said Dr. Chapman Sledge of the Cumberland Heights Foundation, a drug and alcohol treatment organization. “I think that the prescription opioid problem in our country is epidemic and has got to be addressed. It affects individuals, it affects families, it affects society as a whole.”