The number of overdose related deaths continues to climb across the nation. Tennessee is among the states who offer an antidote injection with a prescription. There is great controversy surrounding this decision to save lives. One side is in favor of making the Narcan shot available while the opposing side demonstrates concerns that this will encourage the opiate abuse epidemic. While both sides have valid points, the fact is there will be opiate overdoses and opiate abusers independent of the availability of the Narcan injection.
It is too early in the process to jump to conclusions of positive or negative outcomes, only time will reveal if making Narcan available can improve the statistics of opiate related deaths. Some data reported by the state of Tennessee last year reveals the number of deaths from opiates were greater than the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents. Opiate related deaths are the third leading cause of death in the state of Tennessee only preceded by pneumonia/influenza as runner up to diabetes.
Here is a breakdown of counties across the state and their reported number of opiate related deaths from 2014. Keep in mind that this does not include those deaths that were recorded as respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, or unknown that stem from the opiate use that resulted in each of these.
While these numbers are alarming, there are states with higher rates than Tennessee. The fact remains, how do we correct the problem????
Other states are focusing on the grand picture by developing programs that address the prevention, education, and treatment. Tennessee is steadily making improvements for its citizens. Locally, there have been county formed task forces, coalitions, parent groups, and awareness groups. All of these are essential in making a dent in the opiate problem within the state and country. Acting locally will make more impact and spread to a global impact.
What can we do? Educate young children about the dangers of drugs, talk to parents about the signs of drug use and how to approach their children, speak with your local and state government officials about your concerns and gain insight to their plan of action on these topics, start a support group for those who have lost someone to opiate overdose and discuss how to make an impact within your community, join a taskforce or coalition on prevention, attend meetings in the community and inquire about what is happening to prevent drug abuse and what options for treatment are available, sponsor someone who is struggling with drug abuse..... these are just a select few.
Know the facts, Prevent, Promote Awareness, Be Prepared, Take Action!!!! One person is all it takes to make a difference and save a life.
Two local treatment centers offer Outpatient Treatment using a non-narcotic, holistic approach.