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The Memphis Opioid Epidemic and How the City is Taking Action

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Illuminated bridge in Memphis

As substance abuse treatment providers in Memphis, we know that opioid abuse has been a major problem in the United States in recent years, and Memphis is no exception. The city, like many other major metropolitan areas, has struggled and is taking steps to combat the problem.

The Memphis Opioid Epidemic

Opioid abuse has been a problem in Memphis for decades, but unfortunately it has only gotten worse in recent years.

Shelby County, home of the city of Memphis, recorded 854 opioid-related emergency rooms in 2018 alone and 720 opioid-related deaths between 2014 and 2018.1 In 2019, those numbers only got worse. Opioid-related emergency rooms in Memphis increased 39% from 2018 to 2019.2 More alarming, the number of opioid-related overdoses in Shelby County rose 61% from 2018 to 2019.

With the opioid epidemic in Memphis already on the rise, the coronavirus pandemic was of no help. Due to the psychological anxiety and added stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid abuse and overdoses have increased across the country. From April 27, 2020 to May 30, 2020, there were 482 suspected drug overdoses recorded in Shelby County. 90.5% of these took place in Memphis and while the exact numbers for 2020 are unknown, in 2019 opioids were linked to 76% of drug overdose deaths in the county.3.4 If life returns to normal, the city will have a long way to go to take a positive step against the opioid epidemic.

Combating Addiction and Opioid Abuse in Memphis

Tackling the opioid epidemic in Memphis is not easy, especially given the ill effects of COVID-19, but the city is taking steps to help those who already have problems and prevent more people from becoming addicted to these drugs will.

One strategy is harm reduction. When the coronavirus pandemic hit Memphis and Shelby Counties, the health department took action by giving residents free Narcan, a life-saving opioid overdose drug. The city also focused on syringe service programs and tried to provide helpful resources for treating opioid addiction to the people in the area.5

In terms of prevention, the Memphis Area Prevention Coalition offers several programs and resources to try to prevent opioid abuse in the community. The organization is even part of a two-day opioid summit aimed at educating the community and discussing long-term solutions for prevention.6th

While Memphis still has a long way to go in making real progress, we at Vertava Health East Memphis are here to help. Contact our addiction treatment specialists in East Memphis to get started. Everything you say is confidential.

Thank You For Reading!


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