Drug Overdoses Spike in Hamilton County: Erlanger Chimes in

HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF)- According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, drug overdoses in Hamilton County are spiking in 2020.

More than 250 people overdosed in Hamilton County between January and September of 2019.

In 2020, overdoses nearly doubled.

Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital believes mental health and drug abuse tend to coexists.

With the pandemic in the mix, drug overdoses are now amplified.

“You’re seeing a lot of people that are isolating themselves, losing jobs, divorces -all of the things that come with stress’ said Erlanger’s Psychiatric Mental health Nurse Practitioner Adam Barkeloo.

Barkeloo says people make the mistake of taking matters into their own hands.

“If you have a mental illness the way it goes is you tend to self medicate rather than letting us medicate until they come to our facility.”

Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital says drug abuse favors no one and there are several drugs that have taken a toll on the lives here in Hamilton County.

“I think it cuts across all genders and all races. Nicotine is still very addictive. Some people with mental illnesses do very poorly with smoking marijuana.”

According the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, 800 methamphetamine labs operate at any given time in Tennessee.

“Methamphetamine the biggest problem around here. It seems like it’s readily available. It’s easily manufactured. You have no idea what goes into it.”

66 people have died in a 9 month period due to overdoses.

Barkeloo urges anyone with an addiction and mental illness to seek help before it’s too late.

“We recommend emergency room, suicide hotline, call 9-1-1, or you can walk in righter here at Erlanger Behavioral Health.”

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Hamilton County, Health, Local News

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