Tennessee County Police Say Most Crime is Heroin, Drug Related

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Tennessee County Police Say Most Crime is Heroin, Drug Related

Cheatham County, Tennessee law enforcement say that the majority of crimes and deaths in the area are drug related – specifically, to heroin. All police officers are now carrying naloxone, a drug that can reverse the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose.

Area officers say that up to 90% of deaths, robberies, and other crimes are related to heroin sales or use. The police warned the community recently to prepare for an increase in overdoses, likely due to a batch of heroin laced with the similar but much more powerful drug fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a painkiller used in medical settings mostly for anesthesia or cancer pain and can be as much as 100 times more potent than morphine.

Det. Ken Miller with the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Department to local network WKRN:

“Heroin is taking up 80 to 90 percent of our time. Everything we are dealing with now is related to heroin. It used to be pills…what we are finding out is they are cutting it with something…and whatever it is it’s turning fatal.”

Dealers sometimes combine heroin and other substances with fentanyl because they are more powerful and cheaper to manufacture. However, the presence of these drugs increases the risk of a life-threatening overdose.

Tennessee’s heroin problem, like much of the country, has its root in prescription painkiller addiction. Recent estimates suggest that are more painkiller prescriptions in Tennessee than there are residents and that the heroin overdose death rate increased nearly 44% from 2014-2015.

Despite the rising rates of addiction, overdoses, and concern, many people are not actively avoiding the use of opioids. Recently, NPR and Truven Health Analytics conducted a survey that found over half of Americans report receiving a prescription for painkillers from a physician, a 7% increase from 2011.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a record number of people died from drug overdoses related to opioids in 2015. These deaths are contributing to the first decline in life expectancy in the U.S. since 1993, and these drugs are now responsible for more deaths than car accidents.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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