Deaths from suspected opioid overdoses continue to rise in Shelby County

SHELBY CO., Tenn. — More than 110 people have died from suspected opioid overdoses in Shelby County this year, and that number is only expected to grow.

Shelby County Health Department data shows 479 people visited emergency rooms for opioid-related cases.

“I was ok with [the fact that] I might die today or tomorrow. I didn’t want to live. I felt hopeless - absolutely hopeless,” said Alexandria Smith, who is a patient at Turning Point and recovering drug addict.

Smith is just 21-years-old. She said she didn’t expect to live this long because she was addicted to heroin after breaking her back during a bad car accident in 2016.

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Now Smith is in recovery at Turning Point, a treatment center in Southaven, Miss.

“This drug doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t care who you or how much money you have, doesn’t care what you look like. It will get you one way or another,” said Smith. “And unfortunately, a lot of people don’t get a second chance like I have.”

New data from the Shelby County Health Department shows there were 112 suspected opioid overdose deaths from January 2019 to June 8, 2019.

There were 213 total suspected opioid overdose deaths in 2018, and 164 suspected opioid overdose deaths in 2017.

The data also shows the common age for overdose death was 56-years-old, which is older than last year when it was 32.

“We see a lot of opioid use among older people because the pain starts coming in the back pain, the injuries, the falls things like that. They get a prescription, and nobody talks to them about pain management and this happens,” said Brett Martin, public relations manager at Turning Point.

Martin said there needs to more conversations about possible solutions.

“The TBI creating a task force across the start that’s huge because that keeps the drugs out of the state. Hopefully that holds people accountable for dealing the drugs and it connects people to resources with their addiction,” said Martin.

Health Department data shows about 36 percent of the suspected opioid deaths this year were white men, followed by white women and then black men.

Turning Point is hosting a discussion about treatment trends Wednesday morning at FedEx Event Center at Shelby Farms. You can sign up HERE.

If you need treatment, you can reach Turning Point at its hotline at 1-888-614-2251.