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School System to Hold Education Forums on Opioid Threat

Knox County Schools and WBIR are working together to present four public forums this fall to inform parents about the dangers of opioids.

The first event will be Sept. 28 at Bearden High School. Similar events will follow Oct. 5 at South-Doyle High School, Oct. 25 at Fulton High School and Oct. 26 at Halls High School.

Each event will be held 6-8 p.m.

Numerous community groups and agencies are taking part including the Knox County Health Department, the Metro Drug Coalition, the Knoxville Police Department, the Knox County Sheriff's Office, the Knox County District Attorney General's Office and the district parent teacher association.

The movie "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict" also will be screened. The documentary, released by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, features interviews with people who have fought opiate drug addiction. It's meant to alert young people about addiction.

Each event also will feature a discussion panel. Educational booths and tables also will be set up to provide information about the health and treatment aspects of opioid abuse, which state and national officials now view as a national crisis.

It's hoped the forums will spur greater awareness and perhaps discussions at home among families, system spokeswoman Carly Harrington said.

More than 215 people have died so far this year in Knox County from a suspected overdose, either from prescription pill abuse or taking deadly amounts of heroin or the hyper-concentrated fentanyl.

Overdoses span all age and economic groups and appear to be claiming a growing number of people in their 20s and 30s, statistics show.

Nationwide, an estimated 46,000 Americans die annually from a drug overdose -- more than victims of gun violence or car crashes, according to the FBI. Some critics say the rate is much higher.

Some 60,000 students attend Knox County Schools.

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