NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – In 2021, 712 suspected overdose deaths were reported, representing a 15% increase compared to 2020 which was previously the deadliest year on record with 621 overdose deaths.

Michelle Dubey, Chief Clinical Officer for Landmark Recovery a local addiction treatment center, has seen a steep jump in cases following the onset of COVID-19. “We’re coming out of what feels like a never-ending change to society as a whole. And when people are struggling, they seek kind of easy, comforting solutions.”

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Fentanyl fits the mold. It’s potent, cheap, and easily accessible.

“There’s clandestine labs that are producing this domestically. It’s no longer something that’s having to come over the border. We can make this in our own country,” Dubey explained.

Fentanyl has poisoned almost every part of Nashville, according to data from the Metro Nashville Public Health Department. The five zip codes most impacted by overdose deaths in 2021 were: 37115, 37013, 37211, 37207, 37209.

“This Fentanyl trend is definitely the newest. We’ve kind of got to get an understanding, where is it being produced? How is it being produced? Much like we learned about meth labs when meth labs were real big, but it is ever-changing,” Dubey admitted.

Combating the problem starts in the community. Dubey stresses the importance of approaching the problem from a non-judgmental place and taking steps personally to be a part of the solution.

“I think the other thing as a community that we can do is become educated on anti-overdose medications and carry those,” Dubey said. “I carry Naloxone with me. I’ve been trained on it, anyone can be trained and it’s it saves lives.”

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Additional key points from the data released, 67% of suspected drug overdose deaths were males while the majority of deaths occurred among 35 – 44-year-olds.