Tag Archives: Tennessee

NPR: How Drug Combos Are Making Tennessee’s Opioid Problem Even More Deadly

Original By: AMY ESKIND
Posted On: September 25, 2017

NPR: Combining Dangerous Drugs Pushes Tennessee Overdose Deaths To Record High
NPR: How Drug Combos Are Making Tennessee’s Opioid Problem Even More Deadly

The combining of powerful drugs — both purposeful and unintentional — is making Tennessee’s opioid epidemic even more deadly. The latest figures out this month show 2016 was another record year for overdoses in the state — more than 1,600 people died. And experts say risky drug cocktails are compounding the problem.

Emergency responders have answered hundreds of 9-1-1 calls from friends and family members of people who have overdosed. Last year Davidson County lost 261 people to overdose, almost all of them from opiates. On the street, heroin is a cheaper opiate than pills. Many users are looking for whatever will give them the highest high, says recovering addict Mary Barton Lea.

“When I was buying my heroin I said, ‘who’s got the heroin with the fentanyl?’” she says. “That’s the heroin I want.”

Fentanyl is a very strong opiate that magnifies the experience and lasts longer. Experts expect to see more of it coming into Middle Tennessee.

“It’s a sleep-like state, it’s a state that you feel secure,” Lea says. “I’ve read — and I tend to agree with this — it’s almost like kissing God, because it takes you to a place you’ve never been before.”

But that incredible high comes with a physical and mental addiction, Lea says.

“When you come down from that state, all your body says is I want to get back there…You get up there quick, but then there’s a crash and the crash is horrible. The crash is you will do anything within your power to get more.”

Serious addicts like Lea may be willing to flirt with death. Others are simply unaware, says Sam MacMaster. He’s the chief clinical officer at JourneyPure, an addiction treatment provider. He warns that no one can be sure what they’re buying in the illegal market.

How Drug Combos Are Making Tennessee's Opioid Problem Even More Deadly
Sadly, 2016 was another record year for overdoses in the state — more than 1,600 people died. And experts say risky drug cocktails are compounding the problem.

“You would not be able to tell [by] how it looks at all, and that’s the issue,” MacMaster says. “They believe that they’re purchasing typically heroin or sometimes even a pilled opiate but it’s been cut with fentanyl.”

Indeed, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency issued a warning about counterfeit Vicadin and Oxycotin pills. As with heroin, unscrupulous dealers add fentanyl to give themselves a marketing edge — they’ve got the strong stuff.

But some users are buying the laced drugs unknowingly. They may erroneously think it’s stronger because it’s more pure. The next thing they know, they can’t breathe. Then their heart stops.

“If I believe I’m shooting x-amount of heroin, I may in fact be shooting something that is much more potent. And while I may have a sense of what my body can handle, I’ll have no idea what my body can handle in terms of the fentanyl,” MacMaster says.

Some dealers are even lacing their supplies with carfentanil, a veterinary opiate that can knock out a rhino.

But lethal combinations go beyond various opioids. Users have also been adding prescription anxiety medications, such as Xanax, Valium or Klonopin. Not only is that a doubling up on medications that depress the central nervous system, experts worn there can be a multiplier effect. And it’s hitting teens and young adults hard, especially since many of them already have anti-anxiety prescriptions. Others have painkillers, maybe prescribed for an injury.

“There’s actually prescription parties where kids will have a party and everybody raids the medicine cabinets they can get to, brings them to the party, and then you have whatever you have at that party for people to experiment with,” says Cinde Stewart Freeman, chief clinical officer at Cumberland Heights, an addiction treatment center.

Cole Szabo, adolescent specialist at Cumberland Heights, says the days when kids stuck to beer and marijuana are gone.

“The benzos and opioids are the new gateway drug,” he says. And it’s in the schools. “You’re seeing Xanax, you’re seeing benzos, you’re seeing hydrocodones, oxycodones, Vicodin – you’re seeing that more. The problem with that is, you’re going to die quickly. It’s a quick death, you’re going down fast.”

If administered in time a nasal spray called Narcan that reverses the effects of opiates can save a life. Emergency responders in Nashville have used it on more than 500 people already this year.

But Narcan has no effect on other drugs like anti-anxiety pills, cocaine, or alcohol, so combination overdoses can still prove lethal. That was unfortunately the case for Max Barry, the son of Nashville’s mayor, who could not be revived with Narcan, and died over the summer in Colorado with much more than opiates in his system.


2016 Concert for Cumberland Heights

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – August 2, 2016 – On Wednesday, October 5, the Concert for Cumberland Heights will feature Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter John Hiatt and his band at the historic Ryman Auditorium to benefit the John Hiatt Fund for Adolescent and Young Adult Treatment at Cumberland Heights. Celebrity friends joining the John Hiatt Trio on this evening will include Richard Thompson, Nate Bargatze and at least one more performer that will be announced in the coming weeks.

Tickets for the concert go on sale Friday, August 5, 2016, via Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com, the Ryman box office, www.ryman.com and by phone 800.745.3000. Tickets are $49.50, $42.50 and $32.50.

The evening’s performance times are:

  • 8-8:30 pm – TBA
  • 8:33-9:10 pm – Richard Thompson
  • 9:10 – 9:30 pm – Nate Bargatze
  • 9:30-10:30 pm – John Hiatt Trio

The Los Angeles Times calls John Hiatt “… one of rock’s most astute singer-songwriters of the last 40 years.” Hiatt is a multi-talented rock guitarist, pianist, singer and songwriter who plays a variety of musical styles including Americana, folk rock, blues and country and has a long relationship with Cumberland Heights and supporting recovery from addiction.

Hiatt is also this year’s winner of the NAATP’s (National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers) Jasper G. Chen See, M.D. Volunteer Leadership Award that recognizes individuals who have provided exceptional volunteer leadership in the area of addiction treatment through board membership and philanthropy.

“This fundraising concert and Cumberland Heights are both near and dear to my heart,” said Hiatt. “I am honored to have such talented friends join me in raising money to help adolescents and young people recover from alcoholism and drug addiction. This is an important cause. Plus, it’s going to be a great show!”

Proceeds of the event support Cumberland Heights’ adolescent and young adult treatment programs. With a treatment plan based in the 12 Steps, these programs help patients set goals for recovery while helping them process life’s consequences and unmanageability. This concert has raised more than $3M over the last 20 years of its existence to assist patients with treatment.

“We are especially grateful to have John Hiatt as our featured performer during this, our 50th Anniversary year and the 20th concert year,” said Cumberland Heights’ CEO Jay Crosson. “This is one of our largest fundraisers of the year and John Hiatt has been instrumental to its success throughout its history. We are grateful to John as well at the other fantastic entertainers and sponsors who make it all possible.”

About Cumberland Heights

Since 1966, Cumberland Heights has been the proven experts in alcohol and drug addiction treatment. They provide quality care, based on the foundations of the 12 Steps, to individuals and their families suffering from addiction. Cumberland Heights is committed to the approximately 2,500 men, women and adolescents it serves every year and the communities where its facilities are located. Cumberland Heights is a private, nonprofit organization located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee.

About John Hiatt

John Hiatt has been nominated for several Grammy Awards and has been awarded a variety of other distinctions in the music industry. He remains one of the most respected and influential American singer-songwriters.

Hiatt was working as a songwriter for Tree International, a record label in Nashville, when his song “Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here” was covered by Three Dog Night.[1] The song became a Top 40 hit, earning Hiatt a recording contract with Epic Records. Since then he has released 21 studio albums, two compilation albums and one live album. His songs have been covered by a variety of artists in multiple genres, including Bob Dylan, The Searchers, Delbert McClinton, Willy DeVille, Ry Cooder, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Joe Bonamassa, Willie Nelson, Three Dog Night, Joan Baez, Paula Abdul, Buddy Guy, the Desert Rose Band, Jimmy Buffett, Mandy Moore, Iggy Pop, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Rosanne Cash, Suzy Bogguss, Jewel, Aaron Neville, Jeff Healey, Keith Urban, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan, Paulini and many others. The Dutch singer/songwriter Ilse DeLange recorded the album Dear John with nine of his songs.

About Richard Thompson

Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards for Songwriting on both sides of the Atlantic – from the Americana Music Association in Nashville to Britain’s BBC Awards as well as the prestigious Ivor Novello. In 2011, Thompson received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) personally bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. In the USA Thompson has been nominated at the Americanas for both “Artist of the Year” and “Song of the Year”. HIs recently released CD, Still was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy which reached #6 in the UK charts (just ahead of Taylor Swift)!

A wide range of musicians have recorded Thompson’s songs including Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, REM, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Patty Lovelace, Los Lobos, Tom Jones, David Byrne, Don Henley, Robert Earl Keen and many others. Thompson’s massive body of work includes over 40 albums, many Grammy nominations, as well as numerous soundtracks, including Werner Hertzog’s Grizzy Man.

About Nate Bargatze

Nate Bargatze got into the entertainment business naturally — his father is a former clown turned world-class magician. He is now a very popular, critically acclaimed comedian.

Bargatze’s one-hour special, Full Time Magic, was number one on Billboard Top Ten Comedy list. He has appeared multiple times on Conan and Fallon while being one of the first comedians to perform on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, and performed on Jimmy Fallon’s Clean Cut Comedy Tour. Bargatze has also performed at Bonnaroo, SXSW, and Moontower and has performed for U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait more than five times.

Named in 2015 in Variety as a “Top 10 Comedian to Watch,” Bargatze was mentioned in Rolling Stone Magazine by Marc Maron as a “comic who should be big” and in Esquire by Jim Gaffigan as “one of the top up and coming comics.” His first album, Yelled At By A Clown, made it to number two on Billboard Top Ten Comedy.

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Media Contact:
Amy A. Atkinson
Amy Atkinson Communications
615.305.8118
Amy@AmyACommunications.com

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