There’s a spike in the number of opioid related overdoses and deaths in Shelby County.
According to a report released this week, at least 18 people overdosed during the first two weeks of January. Of that number, 10 people died.
We talked to addiction specialists at Turning Point in Southaven, Mississippi, to find out why this is happening.
“It reminds us that work still needs to be done and we’re doing it,” says Brett Martin.
Martin is the Public Relations manager for Turning Point in Southaven, Mississippi. He says it’s heartbreaking that ten people have died in just two weeks in Shelby County from overdosing.
Martin says spikes in opioid-related deaths are typically seen in young people. That isn’t the case with these latest numbers.
“The average age is 47-year-old white men, so that tells us not only do we have an opioid epidemic, but we have an addiction epidemic. We’ve gotta get down to the root problems of why people continue to turn to these substances to cope,” says Martin.
Turning Point launched its “Another Chance” initiative last month.
“We know just with talking with people they’re having to revive the same person sometimes twice a day,” says Martin.
They’re hoping local first responders will leave one of these cards with people who survive an opioid overdose to let them know, help is here.
“That person can call us and maybe we can get them into one of our programs or a program that fits them,” says Martin.
Turning Point’s medical Director says restrictions on prescription medication is good, but it can have a negative impact on people who are truly addicted.
“They may resort to other places to get medications and that’s when the issue comes of them possibly having an increased chance of an overdose,” says Dr. Kallol Saha.
“You’re gonna turn to wherever you can get that often times that’s going to the street and get pills, heroin, whatever it may be. And in today’s time with fentanyl, these pills, it’s like playing Russian roulette with your life you never know what that could be,” says Martin.
Addiction specialists at Turning Point say education is key. People who are prescribed pain pills need to know how to taper themselves off safely and effectively.
The government shutdown is also affecting those struggling with an opioid addiction.
Dr. Saha says the shutdown could be a life or death situation for addicts seeking help, because doctors must be certified to prescribe the medication used to treat people addicted to opioids. That medication could soon be hard to get.
“You have to be certified to give this medication. Ok. And when you’re certified to give this medication you can give it but to get certified you have to apply through the DEA which is shutdown by the government,” says Dr. Saha.