NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The number of overdose deaths in Nashville is dropping, but one of the people on the front lines says this is not the time to back down. Now, they’re getting new help to save even more lives.

“The opioid crisis is real, individuals are dying at high rates due to the opioid epidemic, due to fentanyl,” said Andrea Hancock.

It’s a reality she sees on a daily basis. Hancock is a Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist with STARS. For years, she has been working on the front lines of the opioid crisis, helping individuals who are trying to overcome addiction and learn about the hidden dangers found in drugs.

“What we say if you’re not getting it hand to hand from a licensed pharmacist, you’re at a very high risk of opioid overdose,” explained Hancock.

Hancock knows all too well the dangers of drugs, as someone who overcame drug use. Now, anytime you see her, she is equipped with an overdose kit. In it are everyday essentials including naloxone and fentanyl strips.

The latest data from the Metro Public Health Department shows the number of overdoses has decreased by nearly 10%, but with the holiday season here, people like Hancock say that can change at any moment.

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“You can’t get comfortable, we cannot, we cannot,” said Hancock. “We are still in early December right, we still have the holidays coming. We see overdoses tend to trend upward, and we see that it’s associated. We believe it’s associated with stress, you know, just the holidays.”

Now, new funding to help with the crisis. During Tuesday’s council meeting, leaders passed a resolution that provides grant money to the city’s Opioid Overdose Response Program.

“This is one way where we can target dollars in a very effective way to ensure that qualified personal are traveling with our first responders and can address, treat, and can access folks who are struggling with these overdose issues,” said Councilman Jeff Syracuse.

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It’s called Nashville REACH, standing for Responders Engaged and Committed to Help. The new initiative will kick-start in February as a pilot program through the end of June next year, working with the Nashville Fire Department to partner first responders with mental health clinicians. Now, two more will be added to the staff.