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KCHD: Around 180 people received naloxone from first responders each month in 2021

The Knox County Health Department said white men between 30 years old and 34 years old received naloxone the most frequently, between 2017 and 2021.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knox County Health Department said first responders used naloxone 7,786 times between Jan. 1 2017 and Dec. 31, 2021.

They released a report detailing the frequency with which naloxone was used across Knox County. Data came from the Harm Reduction Coalition, which aims to create a collaborative effort among first responders to rescue people who overdose on opioids by using naloxone, an overdose-reversing drug.

Coalition members include American Medical Response, Cherokee Health Systems, Rural Metro, the Knox County Sheriff's Office, the Knoxville Police Department and the Metro Drug Coalition.

They said that in 2021, an average of 180 people received naloxone each month from a first responder. They said an average of six people received the drug each day. In the report's five-year timeframe, first responders used naloxone an average of 129 times each month. 

However, they said the use of the overdose-reversing drug spiked in 2021. They said it was used 52.8% more compared to 2019. The month with the most uses was September 2021, with 220 deployments.

Credit: Knox County Health Department

They said 78.3% of the people who received naloxone were white. People who did not have a listed race or ethnicity made up 10.9% of deployments. Most were men as well, according to the report.

They said in 2017, around 800 women received naloxone, compared to less than 600 men. By 2021, almost 1,400 men received naloxone compared to almost 800 women. Most of the time, they were between 30 years old and 34 years old, according to the report.

However, in 2020, the number of people over 65 years old who received naloxone spiked — beating out every other age group that year. It then fell in 2021 to under 200 deployments.

Credit: Knox County Health Department

KCHD said that over the five-year period, 968 addresses were visited more than once, with an average of around three visits each. They said addresses that were visited the most often were usually apartment complexes or congregate living settings.

They said that naloxone was used most frequently at the 37917, 37920, 37921, 37918, and 37912 ZIP codes.

Credit: KCHD

Out of all the five years reported, 2021 was the deadliest in terms of overdose-related deaths. They said 533 people died that year, compared to 413 the year before.

The Harm Reduction Coalition asked the Knox County community to learn how to naloxone and carry naloxone with them, in case someone needs it. They also asked the community to reduce the stigma of addiction and asked parents to speak to their children about substance misuse.

People can also keep medicines in a lock box or locked medicine cabinet, making sure they aren't missed. Unused medication should be safely and securely disposed of.

Anyone misusing opioids can find help. The Tennessee Redline offers referrals, and its number is 800-889-9789. The Metro Drug Coalition also offers confidential referrals in Knoxville, and they are available online.

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