The Nashville Metro Health Department (NMHD) released a statement Friday regarding an increase in drug-related overdoses. The statement, posted on the Health Department’s Twitter account, said there had been an increase in drug-related overdoses, and that overnight there were three overdoses in Hermitage that involved a white powder substance.

Trevor Henderson, director of the overdose response program, told Fox17 in an interview that while it’s too early to determine what drug was involved with the overdoses, that 75 percent of fatal drug overdoses have involved fentanyl. “It is heartbreaking,” he said, “and to be frank, it’s heartbreaking every single time.”

He continued that his team and everyone they’ve worked with are upset that the number of fatal overdoses has continued to increase. He added that Davidson County has seen a 16 percent increase in fatal drug overdoses compared to last year.

The NMHD advised residents to check in on loved ones, to not use drugs alone, and to call 911 in the case of a possible overdose. In the Twitter post, they linked their Metro website for drug information.

The website focuses on providing resources and information relating to drug overdoses in the Nashville area. It says that the program “strives to support and enhance stakeholder partnerships, improve linkage to treatment for people living with substance use disorders, and ultimately reduce both fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses.”

The Tennessee Star reported earlier last month that more fentanyl had been crossed over the Mexican border in large quantities every year since 2016. There has been an estimate of 93,331 drug overdose fatalities from last year.

The Star reported that former law enforcement agents said that drug cartels in Mexico have been orchestrating the surge, “overwhelming the capacity of agents to pursue drug smugglers. They can freely enter Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California carrying fentanyl while agents are diverted to the time-consuming duty of apprehending and processing migrants.”

In a 2020 Nashville Metro Public Health safety advisory announcement, the NMPH said that 74 percent of drug overdoses were contaminated with fentanyl and that the average age overdose was reported with was 40. The announcement added, “In terms of years of life lost, which is a measure of the average years a person would have lived if he/she had not died prematurely, the deaths reported so far this year average over 35 years of life lost per person.”

The NMPH recommends anyone needing help with substance abuse treatment referrals contact the Tennessee REDLINE at 800-889-9789.

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Morgan Nicole Veysey is a reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow her on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].