Shelby County issues alert after 20 overdoses in 24 hours

Overdose spike alert issued after 20 overdoses, 3 deaths

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Health Department is reporting another spike in overdoses.

This time, health department officials report 20 overdoses, with three fatalities, Aug. 30.

The spike alert comes days after 16 overdoses were reported within a 24-hour period Aug. 25. Five people died in that instance.

Shelby County averages nine overdoses a week with three being fatal, according to the Memphis Area Prevention Coalition.

There is speculation by experts the holiday weekend played a role in last Friday’s spike.

Data collected by the Shelby County Health Department shows no concentrated area of overdoses reported in the spike last Friday. The ODs happened across the county throughout the 24 hours.

“Our best guess right now since we don’t have the toxicology back from either one yet is that it is some extremely potent fentanyl and that’s just based on the historic toxicology of what we see in overdoses,” said Josh Weil, Memphis Area Prevention Coalition.

Now, thanks to the county’s new opioid database health officials are able to track in real-time when and where overdoses are happening. Information that gives a better picture of the impact of the opioid crisis in Shelby County.

“This could have happened in Memphis before and we would not know about it. So, we don’t know if spikes like this are something new but this is certainly the biggest spike we’ve seen since we’ve been able to measure the data,” said Weil.

What the data also shows the epidemic in Shelby County is far from over according to Josh Weil, a regional overdose prevention specialist. In fact, Weil says the number of users is growing and spreading into new populations and areas of the county.

“The problem is just getting bigger,” he said. “We are seeing this spread to Germantown, Millington, Collierville, Bartlett.”

The latest spike alert from the health department is the second one in a week totaling 36 reported overdoses and eight fatalities between the two days.

“Even with all the Naloxone out there we are still seeing a big increase,” said Weil.

News of the overdose spike came on the same day U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced more than $1.8 billion in funding to states combat the opioid crisis.

Tennessee is expected to receive more than $46 million.

Health department reports spike in suspected overdose deaths

If you know anyone who needs help with addiction treatment, call Tennessee REDLINE at 1-800-889-9789.

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