Town hall meeting talks strategies to stop opioid abuse

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The problem with opioid abuse is so out of control that President Donald Trump issued a public health crisis.

In Memphis, people gathered to search for ways to help Memphians deal with this growing epidemic.

The topic of the town hall was Hope for Memphis. Residents say they want to see more programming, prevention, and treatment to fight this epidemic.

A grieving mother who lost her daughter from a drug overdose spoke out at the meeting, pleading for what she calls the heroin epidemic to stop.

"What used to work isn't working anymore," she said. "It's costing our kids' lives."

She came out to hear firsthand from law enforcement, counselors, emergency officials, and a recovering addict, on the fight to end heroin and opioid abuse.

She says it appears to be getting worse, but Memphis police say they're working to take back the streets.

"It always reminds you of the magnitude of the problem and gives us resolve to make our community safer," said Memphis Police Department Director Mike Rallings.

According to police, there were 101 fatal heroin overdoses last year. So far, this year, 89 people have died from heroin overdoses, and they say a mix of fentanyl makes it even more dangerous.

"It should scare everybody, not just for first responders, but families whose loved ones are addicted," Rallings said.

Police say a bigger issue that they're seeing is a number of repeat heroin overdose offenders. In 2016, there were 107 repeat OD offenders. Among those,16 repeat offenders died.

"At some point, we've got to step in and say if you're not going to get the help, then we're going to help you," said Colonel Paul Wright with MPD.

WMC Action News 5 was told that a grant was approved for $1 million for all Tennessee police departments for Narcan to treat overdoses.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.