MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Twenty people overdosed, three of those fatal, in a 24-hour period on Friday, August 30, in Shelby County. That amount of overdoses in a 24-hour period makes it the highest to date.
Most of the overdoses happened between 9am and 10am that Friday. Nineteen of them happened in Memphis, and one of them happened in Arlington.
The age range was 42-57 years old, 67% of those people were male, and the race/ethnicity of those were 67% white and 33% black.
Alisa Haushalter, director of the Shelby County Health Department, said the majority of recent overdoses are from opioids. However, she said “opioid use disorder” can affect anyone and can stem from an injury or chronic illness.
“We may have surgery or some type of chronic pain,” Haushalter said. “So, we have to engage with our own healthcare provider about our own health and whether we choose to have opioids.”
However, she said there are many reasons why a person might depend on opiates. As a health department they are actively studying exactly which demographics are affected the most and how to prevent dependency on opiates.
“This is actually a physical problem in that when chemicals enter our body they impact our dopamine production ad once they impact our dopamine production that impacts our ability to come off of those drugs,” Haushalter said.
Brett Martin of Turning Point Treatment Center is a treatment specialist and works to help people find treatment who have an addiction. He said the biggest culprit of fatal overdoses in opioids mixed with Fentanyl.
He said often people who depend on pain pills will turn to dealers on the street for more. Many times the person might not know that there is Fentanyl in what they are taking.
“Treat the medication, treat your opiates like a loaded weapon,” Martin said. “A gun can kill you, so can the pill.”
Martin said this can affect anyone from any background, and you most likely know someone with an addiction.
“It’s not the guy living under the viaduct in downtown Memphis,” Martin said. “It’s the guy or gal sitting in your church pew or cubicle next to you. Everybody knows somebody, especially now that the opioid epidemic is here, you may not know somebody, but you do.”
Resources in the Shelby County area:
Shelby County Health Department- (901) 222-9000
Memphis Area Prevention Coalition- (901) 249-2828
Tennessee Redline- (800) 889-9789
Local Treatment and Detox Centers:
Alliance Healthcare- (901) 369-1400
CAAP, Inc.- (901) 360-0442
Lakeside Behavioral Health- (901) 377-4700
Serenity Recovery Centers- (901) 521-1131
Turning Point 24 Hour Helpline: (888) 614-2251