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Tennesseans to remember International Overdose Awareness Day

The COVID-19 pandemic produced many concerns and conditions which fueled the increase in overdose deaths.
SC professor receives grant to study Medicaid programs for substance use disorders
SC professor receives grant to study Medicaid programs for substance use disorders(Nick Neville)
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 12:38 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennesseans are pausing to remember International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31) after a year when sadly more people than ever died from a drug overdose, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Department of Health and community groups across the state are holding many events to remember the lives lost, celebrate the survivors of overdose and to empower Tennesseans to prevent deadly overdoses in their communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic produced many concerns and conditions which fueled the increase in overdose deaths, experts said.

“We are so grateful to the amazing men and women who work at all levels of the behavioral health care system. We are especially thankful for of the people who have survived an overdose, made it through treatment, achieved recovery, and now use their past as purpose for the life-changing and life-saving work they do today,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW. “We know without their efforts, so many more families would feel the pain and loss of overdose.”

According to preliminary numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3,000 Tennesseans died from a drug overdose in 2020. In 2019, more than 2,000 died.

In state fiscal year 2021 which ended on June 30th, the state’s Regional Overdose Prevention Specialists (ROPS) distributed more than 71,000 naloxone kits and recorded more than 11,000 opioid overdose reversals. Since the program began in 2017, the ROPS have documented more than 26,000 lives saved through overdose reversal.

“Tennesseans have struggled physically, mentally, and emotionally these past 19 months as a result of the pandemic and the many challenges it has presented,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “It is critical that we prioritize connecting individuals with resources including treatment and equipping family members, friends, coworkers and others to recognize the warning signs.”

Call or text the TN REDLINE at 800-889-9789 for a free referral to addiction treatment services and linkage to community-based overdose prevention resources.

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