KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The city and county governments are joining together to combat the opioid and drug overdose epidemic in Knox County. The All4Knox initiative’s mission is to create community level change and a coordinated response to better address the substance misuse epidemic.

Last year, 293 people died to suspected overdoses in Knox County and this is as drug use continues to rise in 2020, in part due to the pandemic. So far, 280 people have died of suspected overdose this year.

“This is a huge, huge problem,” Knox County Mayors Glenn Jacobs said. “It doesn’t affect only the people that are directly impacted — addicts and friends or family — it affects all of us. Because when we look at the economic impact across the state it’s two billion dollars. When we look at the impact on our youth and the generations coming up, that enormous as well.”

The All4Knox plan divides the community into nine sectors like businesses, educational organizations and families. Each sector has its own tactics and goals to tackle the underlying problems. Examples include distributing educational materials, hosting drug take-back events, and increasing funding for recovery centers.

“Everybody can look at this plan, I believe, and can say, ‘I can plug into that,’ or ‘I can do that’,” Knox County Director of Health Dr. Martha Buchanan said. “It gives people actionable steps, and things to do instead of wringing our hands.”

Each community sector has a community leader working to make sure the goals of that sector are being met. You can find out more at the All4Knox website.