East Tennesseans were resilient this year. In spite of political strife and the grueling continuation of the pandemic, time and time again, we saw our neighbors step up to help one another. But there is one vulnerable population who’s suffering has spiked, and we need to sound the alarm.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a record-breaking 100,000 Americans died of overdoses over a 12-month period this year. This is nearly a 30% increase from the prior year, and more than the toll of gun fatalities and car crashes combined. Because of COVID-19, those struggling with substance use reported feeling more isolated, and those in recovery have been more prone to relapse.
Tennessee ranks #2 in the nation for opioid use, with East Tennessee having the highest opioid consumption in the state, according to the CDC. Many of the individuals who died are parents and grandparents. They are our children, siblings, friends, and neighbors.
Positively Living & Choice Health Network recognizes that addiction is a disease that can affect anyone, regardless of race, religion, education, gender, or socio-economic status. We believe no one should die of an overdose simply because they didn’t have access to naloxone or Narcan, the drug that successfully reverses an overdose. That is why last year our Harm Reduction program gave out 100,000 doses of naloxone for free in Knoxville, Newport, Chattanooga, and Cookeville.
Our Harm Reduction program provides a wide range of services and builds trusting relationships with those who are struggling, so that if or when they are ready to enter recovery, they know who to turn to for help navigating that process.
Please click here to make a gift this year in support of our Harm Reduction program, and make a gift that will help save lives. We vow to continue serving our most marginalized neighbors in 2022, with inclusive, compassionate care. With your support, a future of health, equity, and hope is possible. Thank you.