Tennessee sees dramatic spike in drug overdose deaths

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — New data shows a dramatic increase in the number of drug overdose deaths across the country last year.

Those statistics show all three Mid-South states were impacted.

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In Tennessee, there was an estimated 42% increase in overdose deaths, much higher than across the country.

“Addiction thrives on isolation, being disconnected from people you love and being around them, so that opens the door for early-onset addiction,” said Brian Sullivan, an executive board member for Prevention Alliance of Tennessee.

Across the country, drug overdose deaths spiked to more than 93,000 last year. A 29% increase from the year before.

“That data shows the highest increase in overdose deaths in 50 years. It has exponentially grown,” said Sullivan.

Prevention Alliance of Tennessee is a non-profit that focuses on substance misuse prevention.

Sullivan said recent data, showing a 42% spike in drug overdose deaths across Tennessee from 2019 to 2020, highlights the need for prevention.

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“Primary prevention is really the key in stopping this from growing any further,” said Sullivan.

In Shelby County, drug overdose deaths grew from 342 in 2019 to more than 400 in 2020.

Desoto County saw a spike from 15 to 40 and Crittenden County saw an increase of two deaths.

“It takes parents, teachers, everyone in the community coming together because whether you realize it or not, addiction affects someone in your life,” said Sullivan.

Prevention Alliance of Tennessee works to stop people from the initial drugs. If you would like for them to come out to your school or community event, click here.

If you need treatment services:

First Steps Recovery Center provides Intensive Outpatient Services for individuals in need of alcohol and drug abuse treatment. Visit their website or call 901-522-1002.

Moriah House is a long-term recovery program for women and children. Visit their website or call 901-522-8819.

Grace House Of Memphis provides long-term residential treatment and recovery support services to women 18 years and older with co-occurring mental disorders. Visit their website or call 901-722-8460.

The Tennessee REDLINE is a toll-free information and referral line coordinated by (TAADAS) and funded by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health Substance Abuse Services. Call 1-800-889-9789.