Health department reports spike in drug overdose activity in Shelby County amid health crisis

Health department reports spike in drug overdose activity in Shelby County amid health crisis
Drug overdoses (Source: AP Images)

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department issued an alert Monday showing a spike in drug overdose activity across the county during a 32-day period.

The department has been tracking drug-related incidents reported by first responders that allows them to collect data for both suspected fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

SCHD says during the 32-day period, there were multiple spikes:

  • Within 30 days (from April 7 to May 7) there were 391 total suspected overdoses reported, 58 of those being fatal. SCHD says that’s the highest count since data collection began in Jan. 2019.
  • Within 14 days (from April 23 to May 7) there were 209 suspected overdoses reported with 35 of those being fatal.
  • Within 7 days (from April 30 to May 7) there were 131 suspected overdoses reported with 20 reports being fatal.
  • Within 24 hours (on May 5) there were 20 overdoses reported and four of those reports ended in death.

More than 90% of those reports are in Memphis with municipalities like Bartlett, Collierville and Millington reporting less than 1%.

Although the Mid-South and the U.S. are facing an opioid crisis, the health department says the spike alerts are not specific to opioids.

Shelby County Health Department reports drug overdose spike
Shelby County Health Department reports drug overdose spike (Source: WMC)

In a statement from the SCHD, director Alisa Haushalter says the data is concerning considering the nation is also battling a pandemic.

"The contributing factors behind the overdose spike are not clear, but the trend is concerning. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that those with substance use issues continue to have access to the care they need, including treatment and community access to Narcan, which can reverse opioid overdoses if administered promptly.”

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