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Tennessee drug overdose deaths increase by more than 200% in five years, most fentanyl-related

From NewsChannel 9: A private security group brought in by businesses downtown, Solaren Risk Management, are very concerned about the current fentanyl crisis.


They are not only worried about the public, but the impact on first responders.


The CEO of Solaren Risk Management, Jack Byrd, says overdose deaths have increased more than 200% in the last five years in Tennessee and he says most of these cases include fentanyl.


The Metro Nashville Public Health Department says there have been a total of 1,383 suspected overdoses since the beginning of 2023.

The health department adds there have been 103 suspected deadly drug overdoses so far this year and their spokesperson adds about 75% of the suspected overdose deaths have a fentanyl presence.


Byrd emphasizes this is a nationwide problem.


This is the single fastest growing epidemic as far as drugs go in the history that we ever tracked,” Byrd said


Byrd says it is a public safety concern and it is dangerous for first responders because a person that touches it or breathes it could succumb to its effects.


This fear now is unheard of. Just the amount of precautions that have to take place for officer safety,” Byrd explained.

Byrd adds the drugs are more potent and he explains they are administering more Narcan, a medicine used to reverse an overdose, more than ever.


“Traditionally, officers would carry one or two pouches of Narcan with them and we have cases now where people are using six, seven, eight, just to sustain them,” Byrd said.


Monti Herring with STARS Nashville, a local nonprofit that has mental health and substance abuse services, says the best way to address this epidemic is more education.


Herring says he wants to see more businesses, schools, and non-profits taking advantage of their free training on drugs and overdoses.


“The trainings that the state gives us covers a lot of different topics. Not just how to recognize or respond to an overdose, and how to administer naloxone, but it also talks about reducing stigma,” Herring said.