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The Opioid Epidemic in Memphis & How the City is Taking Action

The Opioid Epidemic in Memphis & How the City is Taking Action

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

The Memphis Opioid Epidemic

For decades opioid use in Memphis has been a problem, but unfortunately, it has only gotten worse in more recent years. Shelby County, home to the city of Memphis, saw 854 opioid-related emergency room visits in 2018 alone and 720 opioid-related deaths between 2014 and 2018.1 In 2019, these numbers only got worse. The number of emergency room visits related to opioids in Memphis increased by 39% from 2018 to 2019.2 Even more alarming, the number of opioid-related overdoses in Shelby County increased by 61% from 2018 to 2019. With the opioid epidemic in Memphis already on the rise, the coronavirus pandemic did not help matters. Because of the mental angst and the added stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid use and overdoses spiked across the country. From April 27, 2020, to May 30, 2020, Shelby County saw 482 suspected drug overdoses. 90.5% of these took place in Memphis and while exact numbers are unknown for 2020, in 2019 opioids were connected to 76% of drug overdose deaths in the county.3,4 As life get back to normal, the city will face a long road ahead to make a positive stride against the opioid epidemic.

Combating Addiction & Opioid Use in Memphis

Battling the opioid epidemic in Memphis isn’t easy, especially with the negative impact from COVID-19, but the city is taking steps to help those already struggling as well as preventing more people from becoming addicted to these drugs. One strategy is harm reduction. When the coronavirus pandemic hit Memphis and Shelby County, the health department took action by handing out free Narcan, a life-saving opioid overdose drug, to residents.  The city also focused on syringe service programs and trying to supply people with helpful resources about opioid addiction treatment in the area.5 In terms of prevention, the Memphis Area Prevention Coalition offers several programs and resources to try to prevent opioid use in the community. The organization is even part of a two-day opioid summit designed to educate the community as well as discuss long-term solutions for prevention.6 Although Memphis has a long way to go to see real progress, at Vertava Health East Memphis, we are here to help. Contact our addiction treatment specialists in East Memphis to get started. Everything you say is confidential.