Shelby County Health Department issues drug overdose spike alert

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department issued a drug overdose spike alert.

Monday, they reported 391 overdoses in the past month.

A total of 58 deaths is the county’s highest in a 30-day period.

The county surge in overdoses was from opioid use and other drugs.

“We are currently battling two pandemics that both work together against the host,” said Brian Sullivan with Prevention Alliance in Tennessee.

Sullivan said those struggling with addiction are turning to drugs.

“This is indicative of more people spending more time at home,” Sullivan said.

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Those who struggle with addiction feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the number of deaths highlighted other health risks people could be facing.

“We know, having that disease can weaken the immune system,” Sullivan said. “We know that opioid use disorder can affect the respiratory system and slow that down. You have two really large health concerns that are coinciding at this time.”

According to Sullivan, prevention is key. The Prevention Alliance of Tennessee launched the campaign, “Count it, Lock it, Drop it.”

“Count the medicines, the opioid prescriptions that you have, lock it up where people can find it,” he said.

The health department also recommended people to keep Narcan at their home.

“Having that on hand is very important,” he said. “Being able to use it if someone does overdose.”

Visit the SCHD website for more information about opioids, including overdose data.