The Shelby County Health Department tracks and reports both fatal and non-fatal overdose incidents within Shelby County and posts up-to-date information here: https://shelbytnhealth.com/399/Provisional-Opioid-Related-Data-Reports.

What are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain.

For example, opioids may be prescribed for issues such as

  • back pain
  • knee pain
  • degenerative arthritis
  •  sports injury
  • severe pain following surgery

How Do Opioids Become Addictive?

Anyone who takes prescription opioids can potentially become addicted to them.

A person may develop tolerance-meaning that over time they might need higher doses to relieve pain, putting them at higher risk for a potentially fatal overdose.

A person may also develop physical dependence-meaning they have withdrawal symptoms when the medication is stopped.

The Relationship Between Prescription Opioids and Heroin Use

Among new heroin users, approximately 3 out of 4 report abusing prescription opioids prior to using heroin.

When prescription drugs become harder to receive heroin becomes a new drug of choice for some. Heroin is not only more readily available and cheaper but also more potent.

 Many overdose fatalities are now being driven by heroin laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. Fentanyl is sometimes mixed with heroin without the user’s knowledge