Fentanyl, meth to blame for 77% of drug-related deaths in Hamilton County last year

Drug overdose / Getty Images

Three out of four drug-related deaths in Hamilton County last year involved methamphetamine or fentanyl - a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine - according to provisional data from the county medical examiner.

The medical examiner's office identified 106 drug-related deaths among Hamilton County residents throughout 2019. Half of those deaths involved multiple substances, and some people had as many as five different substances in their system at the time of death, according to Ione Farrar, program manager in assessment and planning at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department.

Farrar presented the data Monday during a Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Health Council meeting at the health department. Those most affected by drug-related deaths were white males and people aged 30 to 39 years old.

"The emphasis statewide and nationwide is on opioids, but methamphetamine is coming back roaring," she said, adding most of the drug-related deaths were due to overdoses, but a couple were suicides.