Overdose Awareness Day: We must do something now or more lives will be lost

Published 1:09 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Today, across Tennessee, events are being held to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day.
State data showed in 2020, more than 3,000 Tennesseans died of drug overdose, a 45 percent jump in deaths from 2019 and the largest yearly increase on record.
The Tennessee Dept. of Health said fentanyl is responsible for the uptick in overdose deaths. You may know of someone that may be using recreational drugs. Inadvertently they can end up with something that may contain fentanyl or methamphetamine, a synthetic stimulant.
There is an abundance of misinformation on fentanyl. Overdoses occur when the powder enters the bloodstream, which can happen inadvertently, through a cut or wound, or by touching the eyes, nose or mouth after handling a substance laced with fentanyl.
State health officials battling an influx of both fentanyl and methamphetamine say many of the deaths appeared to be the result of combining the two drugs.
According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. shattered records for overdose deaths nationwide in 2021, with more than 100,000 lives lost. Eighty percent of those deaths were attributed to opioids.
The war on drugs is harming millions of Americans. Locally and statewide, efforts are ongoing to end it. Each week, our local courts are filled with cases of people charged with possession and use of methamphetamine. Shoplifters come before the court each week. Most of them shoplift to get items to sell to have money to buy drugs. Drug use can not only lead to an overdose death, but to other crimes.
In the Carter County community, there are people struggling with drugs. There are also dedicated professionals who are trying to help.
Why does Overdose Awareness Day matter? It matters because everyone who dies of an overdose is someone’s child, sibling, aunt, cousin, or friend, and they all had gifts they could have shared with family, friends, and the community if they had lived, and only if they had received help.
Many people also don’t realize that overdose deaths are preventable.
This day is designed to draw attention to drug overdose and remind people what they can do to prevent these unnecessary deaths.
Locally, two judges are seeking financial help to turn the Roan Mountain Prison into a facility to treat prisons suffering from drug addiction. Until drug use is decriminalized, jails, prisons, probation and parole must serve as entry points for evidence-based treatment. If it does not happen, it could mean a missed opportunity to treat and prevent overdose – a missed opportunity to save a life.
We as a community must become more vigilant and more involved with the effort to stop drug abuse. If we don’t, many more lives will be lost. We can no longer ignore it, and hope the problem will go away. If we don”t start doing something now, the problem will become greater and more lives will be lost.

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