Deadly drug overdoses continue to rise in Davidson County

At least 333 deaths through September
Posted at 5:17 PM, Dec 19, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A glimpse into Metro Public Health Department's latest quarterly report on drug overdoses reveal a growing and troubling trend in Davidson County.

The report, which should be released and finalized next month, shows the number of deadly drug overdoses in Nashville through September of this year surpassed the total number of deaths in 2018. In the first nine months of the year, there were at least 333 cases of deadly drug overdoses. There were 331 throughout all of 2018.

"We knew the trajectory wasn't good and this has confirmed that," Metro Overdose Response Coordinator Trevor Henderson told NewsChannel 5. "I think it says the situation is still very dangerous and it also points out that we still need to be aggressive when tackling this issue."

Fentanyl continues to be the driving force behind many deaths. About 65 percent of the confirmed cases through toxicology reports involved fentanyl. Next on the list was cocaine at 28 percent, followed by heroin and methamphetamine.

Even though it only makes up a small number, Henderson is paying close attention to meth-related deaths in Nashville based on the upward trend across the country. Henderson said the focus for public health officials has grown from an "opioid crisis" to an "overdose crisis" recently.

"From the beginning of the year, we can see a trend line going up and quite frankly at this point, there's nothing to suggest that that line won't continue to grow until we get more interventions in to play," Henderson said.

The number of deadly drug overdoses in the first half of 2019 rose by 20 percent compared to the first half of 2018, according to the previous quarterly report. About 60 percent of the first half of 2019 overdoses involved fentanyl, an increase from the previous year.

"It's really sad. I'd like to see the numbers turn the other way because I've been through it and know how devastating it can be," Lori Bland of Addiction Campuses said. "It's almost like sometimes they have already died because you can't do anything for them."

Bland's youngest son overdosed twice because of his opioid addiction and flown to the hospital years ago. Because of his drug misuse, her son Cory Myers is now in prison in west Tennessee but has been clean for four years. Cory is currently going through a veteran’s program helping him recover and learn life skills.

Henderson hopes to beef up the team next year to better analyze data across the city. Antioch and Madison seem to be the hardest hit areas based on the information.