#2. Community Police Academy – Drugs

Dear Friends,

As I wrote last week, I have enrolled in the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Community Police Academy. Each Tuesday, for 12 weeks, I will attend lectures and demonstrations about the inner workings of Nashville’s law enforcement.

In the first session, we heard from the Homicide Division. That was followed by a tour of the Crime Lab which is housed on the second floor of the Madison Precinct building on Myatt Drive. We toured the different laboratories which specialize in DNA, toxicology, fingerprints, drug identification, and firearms and ballistics.

Then, on Tuesday of this week, for our second session, we heard from the head of the Specialized Investigation Division of the Neighborhood Safety Unit who talked about drugs in Davidson County. He spoke for 3 hours but could have gone on for 30 and every minute would have been interesting.

Some facts:

  • Worldwide, each year, drugs are a $600 billion industry.
  • With 5% of the world population, the U.S. consumes 50% of the world’s pharmaceuticals and 80% of the world’s pain pills.
  • Drugs in this country are classified from Schedule 1 (most dangerous) to Schedule 5. Schedule 1 drugs are those with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. These include heroin, LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), methaqualone, and cannabis.
  • Schedule 2 drugs include cocaine, meth, oxycodone, fentanyl, Adderall, Ritalin, and others.
  • Heroin (poppy plant) is now grown in Mexico to supplant the fall in revenue from the production of marijuana in that country.
  • Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid many times more powerful than heroin and is the leading cause of drug-related deaths in Nashville.
  • Overdose deaths in Davidson County are rising.
    2018  – 346 deaths
    2019   – 468
    2020  – 650
    2021  – 725
    2022  – 736
    In the 4th quarter of 2022, fentanyl was responsible for 79% of drug overdose deaths in Davidson County.
  • Nearly all illicit drugs now contain fentanyl.
  • A fatal dose of fentanyl is just 2 milligrams. 40% of illicit pills have been found to contain more than 2 milligrams of fentanyl. If fentanyl were sugar, a sugar packet could kill 500 people.
  • Narcan (naloxone) is a life-saver in preventing overdose deaths. Narcan (usually applied as nasal spray) almost immediately attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain and blocks the effects of the opioids (e.g., fentanyl). If someone does not have opioids in their system, then the Narcan is harmless.
  • Overdose deaths in Wilson County have risen from 34 in 2017 to 63 in 2021. According to state data, in Wilson County in 2020, there were 79 overdose deaths. 62 were caused by fentanyl.


The most recent Quarterly Drug Overdose Surveillance Update for Davidson County can be read here.

State data can be viewed here.