GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Greene County officials are working together to find solutions to the increased problem of drug overdose in the county.
“Of the confirmed overdose deaths that we know of, over 25 of those have been meth or fentanyl-related,” said Greene County/Greeneville EMS Operations Manager TJ Manis. “I would say that’s probably 95% of the overdoses in Greene County are meth and fentanyl.”
Manis told News Channel 11 that he has seen an increase in people using these substances in the past year, compared to 5 to 10 years ago.
“We have responded to over 160 calls of overdose or possible overdose; it’s definitely an increase from what we’ve seen in years past,” said Manis.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, between the years 2012-2015, Greene County’s overdose numbers were less than 20.
Manis adds that not just meth and fentanyl are the issue.
“Unfortunately, our overdoses are multi-drug,” said Manis. “They may not only have meth or fentanyl, they could have benzodiazepines, muscle relaxers, etc.”
David Beverly, Chief Deputy for the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, said he has worked with the sheriff’s department for 26 years and has not seen an overdose number this high.
“When I started, there was no such thing as methamphetamine,” said Beverly. “Now it’s what we talk about, it is our number one drug here in Greene County, throughout the state, and throughout the United States.”
Beverly said that his officers work 12-hour shifts and that within those 12 hours, they experience four to five methamphetamine or other drug-related calls.
“As of January 1 of this year, arrests with methamphetamine, we’ve had 117; and 148 just drug-related altogether,” Beverly said. “And in 2022, our department had 129 methamphetamine arrests alone with 233 just drug arrests. In 2021 we had 156 methamphetamine arrests with 284 overall drug arrests.”
One of the solutions the Greene County Sheriff’s Office is doing to try and combat overdoses is working closely with the Greene County Anti-Drug Coalition, which teaches young students the dangers of drugs and addiction.
“We will do everything we can to assist the community in getting rid of the drugs that lead to other crimes,” said Beverly.