The Look in Brief

Shelby County add funds to target opioid addiction

By: - January 10, 2022 10:39 pm
Shelby County Commission. (Photo: Shelby County Government)

Shelby County Commission. (Photo: Shelby County Government)

The Shelby County Commission voted Monday to add $168,700 to its operating budget to combat the county’s opioid epidemic.

Shelby County previously received $506,000 from the Tennessee Department of Health for the period of Sept 1, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2022 through an effort to target high-impact areas across the state. Today’s vote amended the original amount. 

Since 2011, opioid overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal, have steeply increased statewide. Shelby County was no exception, and in 2017, more county residents died from opioid overdose than from car accidents, according to the Shelby County Health Department.

In 2018, there were 854 opioid-related emergency visits in the county, and in 2020, there were 416 overdose-related deaths, an increase of 22% since 2019. 

May 2020 had the highest observed number of deaths, which mostly occurred among white men and people between the ages of 30-59. 

While 2020 is the latest complete data available, the Tennessee Health Department reported 2,625 suspected drug overdoses in Shelby County in 2021.

Statewide, there were 3,032 drug overdoses and more than 5 million opioid painkiller prescriptions in 2021.    

Shelby County health officials say they want to target the epidemic through community integration, linking to care and health systems support. In doing so, officials are collaborating with several organizations specializing in removing barriers to addiction treatment. 

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Dulce Torres Guzman
Dulce Torres Guzman

Dulce has written for the Nashville Scene and Crucero News. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she received the John Seigenthaler Award for Outstanding Graduate in Print Journalism in 2016. Torres Guzman is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She enjoys the outdoors and is passionate about preserving the environment and environmental issues.