MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Community leaders gathered to discuss a problem a lot of Mid-South families find themselves dealing with — opioid abuse.
Leadership Tennessee partnered with several organizations for the West Tennessee Opioid Summit, which was held at Shelby Farms.
Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter and Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings were among the many speakers at the summit.
Ron Maxey, a veteran Memphis journalist, spent decades telling other people’s stories, but on Tuesday he told his own. Maxey lost his daughter to a heroin overdose five years ago.
“It was just something she fell into,” said Maxey. “Lovely young lady who did all the things young people do, had a bright future ahead of her and just got involved in some bad things, and she just couldn’t overcome it.”
Maxey’s story is similar to what thousands of families experience when a loved one is hooked on opioids.
The latest health department data shows more than 1,200 Tennesseans died from an opioid-related overdose in 2017.
The summit not only provided a chance to talk about that alarming statistic but possible solutions.
Jim Lancaster with Cigna, which sponsored the summit, said they worked with employers and doctors in areas where many of their customers reside and reduced opioid use by 25 percent.
"We met that goal a year early. Now, we're working to decrease opioid overdose deaths," Lancaster said.
To those worried about a loved one addicted right now, Maxey said to keep loving them.
“Never give up,” he said. “Never give up on family. Just keep working.”