KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- More than 1,200 people in Knox County received Naloxone in Knox County last year, according to a report issued by the Metro Drug Coalition on Thursday.
To better understand the depth of the opioid crisis in East Tennessee, the Knox County Health Department teamed up with the Metro Drug Coalition to gather information on Naloxone deployments from first responders in Knox County between October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017.
More first responders in Knox County are both carrying and administering Naloxone to suspected overdose victims, according to officials. Emergency medical responders have carried the overdose reversal drug for nearly 30 years, while other agencies like the Knoxville Police Department started carrying it in recent months.
AMR Rural/Metro EMS and Fire, the Knoxville Fire Department and the Knoxville Police Department's reports of Naloxone administering incidents contributed to the data presented Thursday.
Research found that three or more individuals received Naloxone every day in Knox County, on average.
The number of individuals receiving naloxone nearly doubled between October, 2016, and January, 2017. Of the 1,268 individuals requiring Naloxone, 93 received the medication on at least two separate occasions during the 12-month time frame.
"To some, this may seem like numbers on a page, but these numbers represent lives, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters in crisis," Metro Drug Coalition's Karen Pershing reflected at the report's unveiling.
The report revealed that white men ages 25-39 were administered the most Naloxone during the time frame. The study noted that 10 percent of individuals receiving Naloxone are black, while two percent are of other races not provided by responders.
76% of Naloxone deployments were conducted by AMR Rural/Metro. The dosage of the overdose reversal drug was also discussed in the report. KPD administers a standard 2.0 mg dose of Naloxone in the nasal spray form to people overdosing. KFD and AMR Rural/Metro have the ability to adjust the medication from 0.4 mg up to 2.0 mg as needed. More than 100 people required a dose greater than 2.0 mg, according to records from responders.
The report also touched on the areas in Knox County with the highest Naloxone deployment numbers.
First responders noticed that Naloxone was most frequently deployed in the 37920, 37917, 37921, and 37918 zip codes. When checking the address where Naloxone was deployed, the majority of cases involved one person.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, can be administered by first responders when a patient appears to be overdosing on opioids.
Doses of Naloxone provide partial or complete reversal of an opioid overdose.
The medication typically works within five minutes depending on the amount and type of opioid a person has taken. Naloxone only lasts 30 - 90 minutes, and officials say symptoms of overdose has the potential to return after the medication wears off.
The Knox County Health Department said not every individual receiving Naloxone struggles with addiction. Medical professionals mentioned that people who take a prescribed medication for the first time experiencing respiratory distress, children who accidentally take adult medications, and elderly people who unintentionally take more than the prescribed dose could be at risk.
Symptoms of Overdose
Health officials described the symptoms a person may experience when overdosing on opioids:
• Loss of consciousness
• Slow or shallow breathing
• Pale or clammy face
• Lips and skin may turn blue
• Pulse may be slow, erratic, or not there at all
Tennessee Drug Overdose Data
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 1,186 of the 1,631 overdose deaths in 2016 were from opioids.
In 2015, the state had 13,034 nonfatal overdose outpatient visits and 7,092 nonfatal overdose inpatient stays.
7,636,112 painkillers were prescribed in Tennessee in 2016.
The East Tennessee region had 240 drug overdose deaths reported in 2016. 149 out of the 240 deaths were associated with opioid overdoses.
How to Get Help:
Having a problem with addiction? The Tennessee REDLINE (1-800-889-9789) is a 24-hour toll-free information and referral line funded by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health Substance Abuse Services. The phone line puts callers in touch with professionals who can provide a diagnosis, prognosis, or mental health assessment.
The Metro Drug Coalition also has resources available to health care professionals, parents, teens, businesses and educators. Find resources here.
The full Knox County Naloxone Deployment by First Responders report can be found here.
Report: Naloxone deployed more than 1,200 times in Knox Co. last year https://t.co/ZwU70T7gFQ— Local 8 News (@wvlt) January 25, 2018