Public Health Officials in Nashville Believe Overdose Spike Linked to Fentanyl

A spike in recent fatal overdoses could be tied to fentanyl-laced drugs in Davidson County, public safety officials have warned

Between May 30 and June 10, the Davidson County Medical Examiner’s office has investigated at least 10 deaths believed to be fatal drug overdoses, according to Metro Public Health.

Of those deaths, half have been associated with an unknown white or brown powder . 

“Tox screens are pending, but we know drug dealers are mixing heroin and cocaine with cheaper and deadly fentanyl,” the Metro Nashville Police Department said in a Twitter post. 

In 2018, the medical examiner’s office reported 344 drug-related overdoses in the county, or just less than one per day. Since May 31, there have been on average more than 1.5 likely overdose deaths per day, according to the data from Metro Health. 

While the exact causes of the deaths have not been confirmed, MNPD and Metro Health hope to warn users and the public about the growing threat. 

How deadly is fentanyl in Nashville?

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever, approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. 

Most recent cases of fentanyl-related overdoses and death are from illegally-made fentanyl, which is often mixed into heroin or cocaine, sometimes without the users knowledge, the CDC said. 

Statewide, 1,776 Tennesseans died in drug overdoses in 2017, up from 1,631 the prior year, according data released by the Tennessee Department of Health last year. It marks at least the sixth year in a row that the death toll rose.

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