Cheatham County works to improve hard-hitting opioid crisis

Tennessee's Opioid Crisis

In September 2017, Charles Corbett rushed to the hospital after his daughter Janie overdosed on opioids, trying to commit suicide. 

“Got a call she was in the emergency room in Sumner County,” Corbett recalled. “She survived, then went in the psych unit for four or five days, then on to treatment.” 

It wasn’t the first time his family had been touched by opioid abuse. 

In 2000, his wife died from an opioid overdose. 

In 2002, his son Casey committed suicide after years of being addicted to prescription pills. 

“I can’t imagine any greater pain than losing a child,” he said. “It’s motivated me to help as many people as I can.” 

Corbett is one of dozens of community members who attended Cheatham County’s “Community in Crisis” town hall Tuesday night.  

“For every person that overdoses, they have family members, they have children,” said Laura Durham, coalition coordinator for Cheatham County Community Enhancement Coalition. “It’s a ripple effect on our community.” 

Since January, there have been 13 opioid-related deaths in the county. 

“Cheatham County has been hit extremely hard,” Durham said. 

Cheatham County EMS has used Narcan 145 times on 114 patients this year. 

“Those numbers are pretty scary,” said Don Schaeffer, director of Cheatham County EMS. 

Durham said the coalition is holding town halls not just in Cheatham County, but in 12 other counties around the state. 

“The goals are to educate, to present the problem and also to present solutions,” Durham explained. 

Some of those solutions include keeping medications secure, getting rid of old prescriptions and carrying Narcan, which reverses the effects of an overdose. 

“Hopefully, we can start seeing some declining patient numbers,” Schaeffer said. 

It’s a goal Corbett hopes will keep other families from going through the pain he’s lived through. 

“It’s a national emergency,” Corbett said. “It’s not just a crisis.”

Click here to read more about Tennessee’s Opioid Crisis.

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