New text program in Nashville will alert public of overdose spikes

Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department has announced its participation in a new SMS notification program to alert the public of spikes in overdose activity. MPHD will be the only jurisdiction in Tennessee to participate in this new project with Partnership to End Addiction. Public health officials hope to quickly reach those at risk of overdose and their families through SMS notifications.

Alarming levels of drug overdoses are reported in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. More people have died in the first four months of 2021 from drug overdoses than in the first four months of 2020, and drug overdoses have steadily increased over the past five years, according to MPHD.

Those interested in receiving SMS updates should send “SPIKE” to 1-855-963-5669. If you would like to receive more information, you can send an email to [email protected]

MPHD continuously monitors drug use data and outcomes in different communities in Middle Tennessee, and uses multiple data sources to detect increases in overdoses occurring in the community.

Josh Love, epidemiologist for MPHD, said the department is studying changes in the number of fatal and non-fatal overdoses, ages and locations, and types of drugs used. Spikes are classified as a number greater than the daily average. Summer is a peak season for overdoses, but prediction is difficult, which is why the text program will help provide information to the public as it becomes available.

MPHD also recommends that family and friends of those at risk of drug overdose recognize common signs such as no reaction, light blue or gray discoloration on the lips and fingertips, shallow breaths, and gurgling or snoring.

When you meet someone who may have overdosed, call 911 and stay with the person until help arrives.

MPHD website contains information on proper medication disposal, medication lock boxes, a syringe service program and more.

If you or someone you know suffers from drug addiction, call or text Tennessee REDLINE at 1-800-889-9789 for substance abuse treatment referrals.

About Rhonda Lee

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