MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There are many resources for people struggling with drug addiction. There are also actions to combat drug activity. Still, we are seeing an increase in drug overdoses in Shelby County which is higher than last year.
“One hit is can truly be the last,” said Christopher Moore, the Cocaine and Alcohol Awareness Program (CAAP)'s State Opioid Response program coordinator.
It is troubling and real. Since January 1, 2023, Shelby County Health Department suspected 398 drug-related overdoses. Of that, 73 resulted in death.
“I'm a person with lived experience of substance abuse problems. Back in 2006, I enter treatment,” said Moore. He now works for CAAP.
“We are community-based treatment providers. Our goal one of the most important goals of our program currently is to connect with the indigent and uninsured who are struggling with opiate use disorder,” said Moore.
One of the biggest issues they have seen is with fentanyl.
“We're encountering an increased trend of individuals who are under the impression that they're using one substance only to find out that it has been tainted with fentanyl. It's very common nowadays for someone perhaps who's using methamphetamine to fail a drug test and truly express shock, related to the fact that fentanyl is in their system,” said Moore.
He is referring to accidental overdoses.
“Now you're seeing just an increased prevalence of other illicit drugs on the streets…you know, having fentanyl in them, which really creates some additional threats to those who maybe aren't really aware that what they're using really poses an intimate threat to their life in that moment,” said Moore. “Fentanyl is dangerous in and of itself.”
Last week, alone, the Shelby County Health Department reported roughly 53 drug overdoses. The most common ages were between 30 and 40. “One of our most cherished messages to anyone in the streets using substances is, you really need to take a long, hard look at what you're doing because, you know, calculated use is a lie. There's no such thing as safe drugs on the street right now,” said Moore.