Drug charges related to fentanyl on the rise in Tennessee

Many physicians in Tennessee prescribe fentanyl as a painkiller for their patients. If used properly, this narcotic is very effective for those people dealing with severe pain. However, the state's Department of Health is concerned that deaths will occur as the drug is now being sold illegally. Law enforcement officials also report that drug charges related to fentanyl have increased dramatically over the last five years.

Statistics show that there were 294 fentanyl-related deaths in Tennessee during 2016. This represents an increase of 74 percent from the 169 overdoses in 2015. A neighboring state reported a 176 percent increase in fatalities in the same time period. Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are concerned about the threat to citizens and law enforcement personnel.

Foreign countries are manufacturing illegal versions of the drug that are thousands of times more potent than morphine. A minute amount can cause a user to overdose. An additional danger is that the drug can enter a person's system through the skin or inhalation. Such exposure poses potentially fatal risks for those exposed to the drug, not only those using it.

Several officers around the state have become ill from exposure and have required medical attention. Gloves, goggles and dust masks may provide a level of protection when dealing with the substance. In addition, some police departments now require officers to keep a medication called Naloxone with them that can help should they be exposed to fentanyl. Naloxone may reverse the effects of the drugs for first responders as well as their K-9 companions that often sniff the drugs.

Drug charges, whether related to fentanyl or other substances, are very serious and should not be taken lightly. If convicted, a person may face hefty fines or significant time in jail. A Tennessee criminal defense attorney can help someone facing such charges mount a rigorous defense. An experienced lawyer will work diligently to minimize the negative impact on a client's life.

Source: wjhl.com, "Dangerous drug fentanyl on rise in Tennessee", Sydney Cameron, Nov. 21, 2017

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