NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Davidson County area was featured in a grim, national report for having one of the worst overdose death rates in the country, according to a first-of-its-kind tracker by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Last year, 754 people died of overdoses in Davidson County. Based on data for areas with more than 500,000 people from February 2022 through January 2023, Davidson County’s overdose death rate is the second highest in the nation, just below Baltimore, Maryland.
The chief medical officer of Cumberland Heights, Dr. Chapman Sledge, found the news shocking: “I assumed that what we’re dealing with here locally is what everybody else is dealing with. Fentanyl has become so incredibly pervasive everywhere in the country.”
Sledge told News 2 fentanyl gained popularity on the street in 2015. Now, it is in nearly every illicit drug in the Nashville area, from fake prescription pills like counterfeit Xanax, to cocaine, to meth.
“You just don’t know what’s out there,” Sledge said. “You can’t trust the supply. You can trust the supply to have fentanyl, actually, and it’s ubiquitous. It’s showing up in everything.”
According to the Metro Nashville Public Health Department, fentanyl was linked to nearly 76% of the 332 suspected fatal overdoses that occurred in Davidson County during the first half of this year.
Despite the staggering fact that Davidson County has America’s second worst fatal overdose rate, according to the report, these deaths are declining in the area due to the overdose reversing drug, Naloxone.
While fewer people are dying of overdoses thanks to the medication, Sledge has noticed a sad trend among some who have been revived with Naloxone.
“We always ask about previous overdose when somebody shows up for treatment, and people sometimes normalize overdosing,” Sledge said. “Basically you die and you’re brought back to life, and that becomes sort of the cost of doing business for an opioid addict, and it’s really really sad.”
Sledge added addiction is a treatable disease. If you or someone you know is struggling, click here to learn more about getting treatment at Cumberland Heights.