Overdose cases on the rise in Metro Nashville, 360 deaths reported so far this year

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Drug Overdose

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It has been a deadly trend in Metro Nashville – fatal drug overdoses increasing at an alarming rate.

According to the CDC, 93,000 Americans have lost their lives to overdoses in 2020. Already this year, Metro Health has reported 360 deaths, a figure that is up by 11 percent compared to this time last year.

“That is 93,000 souls that are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and even conservatively if those people affected 10 people in their lives, that’s 930,000 people who are grieving today. That’s just the loss of the person that was. That doesn’t even speak to what that person could have become,” said Cinde Stewart Freeman, the Chief Clinical Officer at Cumberland Heights.

Cumberland Heights is a non-profit organization based in Nashville. The treatment center’s mission is “to transform lives, giving hope and healing to those affected by alcohol or drug addiction.”

Nashville has seen a 32 percent increase in fatal overdoses last year, compared to 2019. Stewart Freeman explained it’s hard to pin down one reason why the city is seeing this sudden surge, but the pandemic doesn’t help.

“If you are already struggling with perhaps misusing some substance and add that socialized isolation and that anxiety and depression on top of that, it’s really easy to make that slide into active substance use disorder,” explained Stewart Freeman.

September marks National Recovery Month. The campaign is used to increase awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders while encouraging people to seek the treatment and recovery they need.

Along with isolation, what’s fueling this battle of overdoses? Health officials say fentanyl is a major concern. In 75 percent of Metro’s drug overdoses so far this year, fentanyl was found.

“When people are buying things on the street, they really really don’t know what they’re getting, and fentanyl which is responsible for a large majority of the overdoses. There are literally fake fentanyl bars that look just like Xanax, which is a common prescription drug,” said Stewart Freeman.

Residents can sign up for a program called SPIKE, to receive notifications when a deadly substance circulates throughout northeast Davidson County.

For more information or to sign up for notifications, click here.  

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