Spike in fatal overdoses in Shelby Co. could be due to pandemic-related challenges

Updated: May. 25, 2020 at 7:51 PM CDT
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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Health officials say there have been more fatal overdoses in the last couple of months than coronavirus deaths.

Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said in a press briefing, "Since March 15, we’ve experienced 700 overdoses and experienced 102 fatal overdoes."

Psychiatrist Dr. Shubi Mukatira with Blues City Psychiatry and The Transformation Center in Memphis said it is the changes caused by this pandemic that could be making matters worse for people with addiction.

“People in early sobriety, or seeking sobriety, or who have had difficulty with alcohol and drug-related issues are struggling with heightened symptoms or cravings,” Dr. Mukatira said.

Things could be especially difficult for recently recovering addicts right now.

“Their support systems in many ways have been stripped away from them,” Mukatira added.

Even though treatment centers have had to change their procedures because of the health crisis, there is still help available.

“There is intentional overdoses as it relates to suicidality,” Dr. Mukatira explained. “For those individuals struggling with depression and suicidality, reach out to the suicide hotline, or local resources: 9-1-1, local psychiatric hospitals.”

Dr. Mukatira also encourages people to reach out to twelve-step programs available online, and treatment centers offering help virtually.

"Initially they may have trepidation about reaching out online, but once they do they have had good success with connecting with a community of individuals to help them continue to stay sober," Mukatira said.

You can call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

There are also Street Team for Overdose Prevention (S.T.O.P) events where Narcan, treatment resources and needle exchange services will be offered.

Friday, May 22, 2020

1590 Sycamore View Road, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

28 N. Claybrook Street, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

3628 Summer Avenue, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

1590 Sycamore View Road, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

28 N. Claybrook Street, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

3628 Summer Avenue, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

3360 N. Watkins Street, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

2760 S. Perkins Road, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

3362 S. 3rd Street, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

You can also call the Tennessee Redline at 800-889-9789 or Memphis Area Prevention Coalition 901-249-2828 for treatment and services.

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