KNOXVILLE (WATE) – More than 130 people died of drug overdoses last year in Knox County, the second highest in the state. Many families gathered Monday night for International Overdose Awareness Day.
A group of former gymnasts came together to form Taygan’s Team, an organization aimed at spreading drug overdose prevention and awareness.
Taygan Towe passed away back in July after battling drug addiction. An event was held in Fountain City Monday night in Towe. It was organized to help raise awareness and address the stigma associated with drug-related deaths.
The event included details regarding the roll-out of a new billboard campaign, “Don’t Let a Friend Die.”
Activities included In-Remembrance poster making, naloxone-kit making and the screening of documentaries.
The number of Tennesseans who die each year of drug overdoses increased again in 2014, to a record-setting 1,263. State officials say that means more people died of drug overdoses in Tennessee than motor vehicle accidents.
“If you, a friend or a loved one is at risk for an opioid overdose, talk with your healthcare provider about a very safe antidote that anyone can learn to administer,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “In many opioid overdoses, death can be prevented by administering the drug naloxone, almost immediately reversing the deadly effects of opioids and allowing time to reach further medical treatment.”
“Naloxone gives you that second chance to save your life and then you can choose recovery after that,” said Anna-Claire Daniels, a friend of Taygan Towe.
While overdose deaths can occur anytime, the most-high risk are those using escalating doses and those using a combination of drugs, such as opioids and benzodiazepines. Ninety-one of Tennessee’s 95 counties had at least one death attributed to a drug overdose in 2014. The only counties without a confirmed overdose death were Hancock, Lake, Trousdale and Van Buren. Twenty-eight counties had at least a dozen, with Davidson, Knox and Shelby all surpassing 100 deaths.
“There is hope, there is hope, you can get clean and stay clean,” said Daniels.
A candelight vigil was also held in World’s Fair Park Monday night for families, friends and people in recovery to light candles and remember those they have lost. They had a chance to post pictures or letters to their loved ones that everyone could see.
2014 Tennessee Overdose Deaths
Tennessee Department of Health
***Tennessee counties with less than one dozen overdose deaths were not released by the Tennessee Department of Health in order to protect the identities of the victims.