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Knoxville Police Urging Families to Keep an Eye on Addicts Over the Holidays

It's a time of year many think about family, presents, and spending time together but for KPD's drug related death's task force it's a time for concern.

"Some people especially those that are struggling with addiction deal with the stress or deal with the stress by attempting to self-medicate,” said Sgt. Josh Shaffer.

Across the county suspected overdose deaths are rising. Knox County registered 170 in 2017, 224 in 2016, and 273 this year.

Sargent Shaffer says his team is working to combat the problem.

"Investigate the deaths we believe are drug related to attempt to determine the source and to prosecute those that distributed the drugs,” explained Shaffer.

Shaffer says holiday gift giving, doesn't affect drug addicts the way you might think. He says typically families know and try not to support their loved ones habit.

"They know that by giving them money they could be putting them at risk, they know more than likely what that money could be going for,” said Shaffer.

KPD is asking families to keep an eye on anyone they think might be struggling because holidays can be a hard time for more than one reason.

A 2010 CDC report of data from 16 states shows 20 percent of suicides involved someone taking opiates. And this time of year may push people to do harm to themselves.

"They may be using more so those signs may be exhibited a little more. Behavior you thought was suspicious may now be a little more telling,” said Shaffer.

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