JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Police and members of the faith community are coming together to address a growing crisis — drug overdoses involving fentanyl.
In recent months, there’s been a spike in deaths and serious injuries caused by the powerful opioid. The people of the Johnson City community are trying to find a solution.
Police Chief Karl Turner was among those who attended a roundtable Thursday night organized by Jubilee World Outreach Church. He said it’s going to take law enforcement health care and the faith community working together to solve the problem.
“Especially in the last couple of weeks or the last month or so we have noticed that we have had some fatal overdoses that we’re investigating,” Turner said.
Turner said so far this year Johnson City has had 18 overdose deaths.
“We suspect that methamphetamine, cocaine and certain pressed pills are containing fentanyl,” Turner said.
Turner said at this time the department hasn’t been able to confirm the presence of it locally in marijuana. He said it takes anywhere from several weeks to months to receive lab and autopsy results after a suspected overdose death occurs.
Pastor of Jubilee World Outreach Church Rayford Johnson isn’t waiting any longer before he takes action, he helped organize the event.
“It get rids of a lot of speculation and blame, and gives us an opportunity to work together because any time we can share information and educate one another, we have a much better chance at understanding one another,” Johnson said.
Among those who attended was Cory Whitfield, a therapist at OverMountain Recovery who deals with clients struggling with addiction and encountering fentanyl.
“Right now, we are in a crisis,” White field said. “We need to let the community know that that’s what’s going on.”