NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Like most friendships, Shannon Henze has positive memories of one of her closest friends.
“This was actually one of my best friends,” Henze described while looking at a photo. “Just cheerful, I’ve never seen this girl sad.”
Even when they were apart, Henze explained a harsh reality hit hard after she didn’t hear from her.
“It was about six to eight weeks after her passing that I actually found out that she passed away,” said Henze. “This is someone that you wouldn’t think that would pass away from using drugs.”
Then, in the summer of 2021, Henze lost another close friend.
“I actually had a friend, she was a mom with four kids, and it was her first time ever trying a party drug and it was a pressed pill and she thought she was going to have a good time and things like that, and she died like almost instantly. So, she had to leave those four kids behind, and this is not somebody anybody thought it could happen to. She thought she was going to have a fun time and that’s not how it happened,” Henze said.
As the number of overdoses in Davidson County remains high, it caught the attention of Henze, who wanted to make a change, especially after overcoming her own addiction.
“I’ve had friends that have gone out to party and go to these bars which are legal places, but there’s not a regulation around drugs so nobody knows what’s in it, and so they are just doing these to have a good time,” Henze said.
To help reduce the number of overdoses, Henze created a non-profit called “Project NASH,” standing for “Narcan Available and Safety Here,” targeting bars and restaurants.
“You might have somebody just instantly overdose or overdose over time throughout the night, taking a certain amount of the substance in and it’s really big in the bar scene because people put those uppers with alcohol,” Henze explained.
In Davidson County, the Metro Nashville Public Health Department released data showed in 2022 when the department tracked nearly 800 overdose deaths that year. Among those, 75% of them were between 25 and 54 years old. During the first quarter, the department tracked 142 suspected drug overdoses in the county.
“People take these party drugs, they think they’re taking these upper things and next thing you know, they’re out and that’s not what they were trying to do, and then people are confused about what’s going on with them,” Henze said.
Henze has been partnering with bars to provide kits, packed with Narcan and naloxone, saying, “Providing bars with Narcan and fentanyl test strips, gives not only people who the test strips informed consent. It gives them a chance to still live.”
“It is enough of a problem that employees are overdosing in these bars now; it’s not just customers and consumers anymore,” said Henze.
To learn more about Project NASH or if you are interested in adding their services to your workplace, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 615-669-4797.
Project NASH also is accepting donations that will go towards providing life-saving drugs; to learn more, click here.