Heroin addiction, deaths rising in Middle Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Whether prescribed or bought on the street, opioid and heroin use are at an all-time high in Middle Tennessee.

“I tend to think of drugs of addiction as having a fuse and the length of the fuse is how long it takes for catastrophe and heroin has a short fuse,” said Dr. Chapman Sledge, Chief Medical Officer for Cumberland Heights.

Sledge has seen firsthand what the heroin epidemic is doing here in Tennessee.

“The market has expanded beyond Nashville and we are seeing heroin in rural areas that you can’t imagine,” said Sledge.

Middle Tennessee is seeing a boom with the deadly drug.

The 18th Judicial District Drug task force says there were 177 heroin related incidents in 2010 that number ballooned to more than 1,100 in 2015.

“Access to prescription opioids has been reduced and as the access has been reduced the price has gone up and heroin has filled the void in the market,” said Sledge.

Sumner County is currently working four possible heroin related deaths.

The 18th Drug Task Force also says in the last year they have recovered more than six kilos of heroin in their unit alone.

“When I asked my patients why heroin, the three consistent responses were it’s cheaper, it’s stronger and it’s easier to get,” said Sledge.

While lawmakers on all levels are looking for more funding, Wednesday, President Obama announced a plan to expand access to addiction fighting medication.

“There have been some drastic measures to attack the opioid epidemic on multiple fronts,” said Sledge. “Access to treatment is absolutely critical and there is not nearly enough access to treatment for everyone that so desperately needs it.”

For more information about overcoming addiction or how to get help click here.

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