NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Four of the state’s officials are joining forces to educate the public about a dangerous drug called fentanyl.
It’s a synthetic opioid estimated to be 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and used to treat severe pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
There is an increased risk of overdose and fatalities due to fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills and compounds.
Last week, the CDC issued a public health alert, and now the state’s departments of health, substance abuse services, and homeland security, along with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, want you have an increased awareness.
The drug, initially available in patches or lozenges for cancer patients, is now being manufactured and sold illegally.
State officials say Tennesseans need to know several things:
- Fentanyl is often mixed with heroin, cocaine or other drugs to increase the euphoric effects of those drugs.
- It is used to produce cheap counterfeits of Oxycodone, Xanax and Norco.
- It can be sold as counterfeit heroin.
- It can be inhaled, swallowed, injected, absorbed through skin contact or passed along in a vaporized form.
- It affects the central nervous system and respiratory functions; in overdoses, a victim loses the ability to breathe and can die if emergency care is not provided.
“Fentanyl is deadly and those who are using or selling it illegally are now at real risk of killing themselves or others; we strongly encourage Tennesseans with substance use disorders to recognize the importance of avoiding drugs from illegal sources and to seek help now to end a dependency. Tomorrow may be too late,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner.
TBI director Mark Gwyn said they are seeing more and more drugs containing fentanyl being made in secret labs that.
“The public needs to understand these drugs present a life-threatening danger to those who use them; they are also a threat to police and EMS first responders who are called upon to aid overdose victims or who are working to remove them from communities across our state,” Gwyn explained, noting the counterfeit drugs look very real.
“This situation is alarming,” Department of Safety and Homeland Security Assistant Commissioner David Purkey said. “Our state is vulnerable to the dangerous influx of drugs that are threatening our Tennessee communities.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid dependence, please contact the Tennessee REDLINE at 1-800-889-9789 to seek help.News 2 is dedicated to tracking crime across Middle Tennessee. For the latest coverage, visit wkrn.com/crimetracker.