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Reported Fatal Drug Overdoses So Far This Year in Davidson County Surpass All of 2019

The Metro Public Health Department announced Friday that fatal drug overdoses recorded in greater Nashville so far this year have exceeded the number recorded in all of 2019.

As of Oct. 9, 2020, Davidson County had recorded 477 fatal overdoses since Jan. 1, Metro Health department data shows. Last year, officials recorded 468 fatalities from overdoses — the highest ever recorded in a year, according information from Health Department spokesman Brian Todd.

The also data shows close to a quarter of fatal drug overdoses between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15 in Davidson County involved a white powdery substance.

An increasing number of fatal overdoses include the drug Fentanyl, an opioid often added to other drugs to increase their potency, health officials said.

Health officials said fentanyl can be up to 50 times as potent as Morphine.

In 2020, Metro Health officials reported, Fentanyl was found in nearly 80 percent of fatal drug overdoses where toxicology reports have been completed.

Tennessee saw steep growth in drug overdose deaths in 2019 when compared to 2018, federal data released earlier this year showed.

As of July, opioid overdoses were up 47 percent in Nashville from that same period last year. The majority of victims were younger men killed by fentanyl, which is commonly laced into heroin and other blackmarket drugs.

In response to the increase in drug overdoses locally, Metro Health announced the creating of an 'Acute Overdose Response Plan' to prepare for large-scale overdose events. They plan to coordinate efforts with partners including first responders, hospitals, and prevention specialists.

The plan went into effect in early October after the Davidson County Medical Examiner alerted Metro Health's Overdose Response and Reduction Program about an increase in fatal overdoses connected to a specific white powdery substance, Metro Health reported.

Sources used to activate of the plan includies reports from the Medical Examiner, data collected by Metro Health's Overdose Response and Reduction Program and real-time overdose tracking data.

Metro Health Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness Angie Thompson said the plan's implementation is dependent upon community cooperation.

“While the plan and its activation are grounded in the leadership of the MPHD Overdose Response and Reduction Program, the cross-sector collaboration evidenced in the response illustrates the complexity of this issue," Thompson said. "It takes a wide range of resources and cross-sector partners for an effective response to save lives in our community.”

Anyone struggling with addition or whose loved ones are at risk of an overdose can call 1-800-889-9789. Naloxone training is also offered.

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