NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The Metro Public Health Department announced that the number of fatal drug overdoses recorded in the first nine months of 2020 have surpassed the total reported in 2019.
As of Oct. 9, Nashville-Davidson County had recorded 477 fatal drug overdoses since the beginning of the year. In 2019, authorities recorded 468 fatal drug overdoses, the highest ever recorded in a year.
An increasing percentage of fatal drug overdoses include the substance Fentanyl, an opioid often added to other drugs to increase their potency. Fentanyl can be 50-100 times as potent as Morphine. In 2020, Fentanyl has been found in 79.4% of fatal drug overdoses where toxicology reports have been completed.
In response to the increasing prevalence of drug overdoses in Nashville, the Metro Public Health Department has played a key role in putting together an Acute Overdose Response Plan to prepare for large-scale overdose events, coordinating efforts with partners including first responders, hospitals, prevention specialists and other agencies and organizations.
The Acute Overdose Response Plan was activated during the week of Oct. 6 after a report from the Davidson County Medical Examiner alerted the MPHD Overdose Response and Reduction Program of an increase in fatal overdoses connected to a specific white powdery substance. Approximately 25% of fatal drug overdoses that occurred between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15 involved a white powdery substance. Upon activation of the Acute Overdose Response Plan, 30 internal and external partners were notified of the report, and several prevention partners were provided details to adjust efforts in areas of specific concern.
“The Acute Overdose Response Plan implementation is clearly dependent upon cooperation across the community,” said Angie Thompson, Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness at MPHD, in a press release. “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. It takes a wide range of resources and cross-sector partners for an effective response to save lives in our community.”
Several data sources can be used to trigger activation of the Acute Overdose Response Plan, including reports from the Davidson County Medical Examiner, epidemiological data collected and organized by the MPHD Overdose Response and Reduction Program, real-time overdose tracking data and other key indicators.
For those who are at risk of a drug overdose or whose loved ones are at risk of an overdose, resources are available. MPHD’s partners at Tennessee Redline offer information and referrals by calling 1-800-889-9789. Naloxone training is also offered. More information on Naloxone training is available at NashvillePrevention.org.