Opioid-related deaths on the rise in Shelby County, report says

WATCH: Fighting the deadly opioid crisis in Shelby County

SHELBY CO., Tenn. — The opioid crisis is still front and center for city officials in Shelby County.

A report from the Shelby County Health Department shows there were 159 opioid related deaths in the county last year.

The data also shows by 2020 there will be more than 250 opioid-related deaths on a yearly basis in Shelby County.

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“There is no specific race, class, creed, religion or sexual orientation that this addiction targets. It’s an equal opportunity disaster for everybody,” said Thurston Smith, who is on the Shelby County Opioid task force.

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He said the first step is raising awareness in the community.

“Addiction is a healthcare condition, it’s a health care issue its treatable and a preventable issue,” said Smith.

On Thursday night, county officials held a meeting to discuss this addiction problem.

Data from the Shelby County Public Health Department shows there were 901 opioid-related emergency department visits in 2017.

“Even in the city of Memphis we have seen a rise in areas of North Memphis and Frayser with prescription drug abuse and this includes illegal drug abuse,” said Smith.

To learn more about opioid addiction you can look at data from the health department HERE.