Advocates work to save more lives amid recent spike in opioid overdoses
Erin Read with the Knox County Health Department said these nonfatal overdoses were related to heroin, though it’s suspected that fentanyl was involved in nearly all of the cases.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - On Friday, officials with the Knox County Health Department announced there were 32 reported nonfatal overdoses in one week alone. Behind each case is a person, a loved one and sometimes even a mother like Jessica Stanley who was once in that number.
“I don’t think people understand the lengths that we are willing to go through and the things that we’re willing to put in our body to make it stop,” Stanley said.
Six years later, she told WVLT News she’s grateful she stopped when she did as today’s drug use is like a whole new world. Nowadays, she said users likely do not know what they’re buying or using.
Erin Read with the KCHD said these nonfatal overdoses were related to heroin, though it’s suspected that fentanyl was involved in nearly all of the cases. Fentanyl can be deadly as it’s a synthetic opioid 50-100 times stronger than morphine.
“Opioids depress the central nervous system. They make your breathing slower. And this is usually what results in an overdose that can’t be reversed using oxygen, assuming mental loss it gets here,” said Read. “Overdoses are already at epidemic levels. Our rates in Knox county are much much higher than most other counties in the U.S. Appalachia has been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic.”
Stanley made it her life’s mission to save lives and has spent more than a year pushing to make sure Knoxville police officer take opioid prevention training.
A spokesperson with KPD told WVLT News the department also saw a rise in overdoses in the same time period and that overdose numbers tend to rise and fall with regularity.
Free naloxone is available from the Metro Drug Coalition at 865-588-5550.
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