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Tennesseans Remember Those Lost to Opioid Overdose

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021   

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennesseans paused to remember International Overdose Awareness Day today, as the state reported increased numbers of overdose deaths.

Anthony Jackson, director of prevention and early intervention for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, said the pandemic worsened conditions that fueled the increase in overdose deaths, such as disconnection from recovery resources and increased stress and anxiety.

"COVID's created a situation where maybe they've been isolated a little more than they would have been otherwise," Jackson explained. "Maybe there's been some economic difficulties or economic anxieties that may have triggered a relapse of some sort."

Preliminary numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate more than 3,000 Tennesseans died from a drug overdose in 2020.

Community groups across the state are holding memorials, trainings and awareness events to remember the lives lost, celebrate the survivors of overdose, and educate residents on the tools to prevent overdoses.

Jackson noted since the overdose prevention program began in late 2017, regional overdose prevention specialists have saved more than 26,000 lives through overdose reversal.

"You may not know who's impacted by this," Jackson observed. "You may not think you need to be trained, but you do. Because you need to understand this could impact anyone."

According to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health, the state's regional overdose prevention specialists have distributed more than 71,000 naloxone kits and recorded more than 11,000 opioid overdose reversals over the past year.


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