We are now in the fourth wave of the overdose crisis. Fentanyl is the still the most common drug involved in these deaths, but stimulants, primarily methamphetamine, is increasingly prevalent. In fact, the vast majority of all overdose deaths now involve multiple drugs. Meth, cocaine, heroin; worse still, newer contaminants like the animal tranquilizer xylazine are showing up alongside fentanyl and its analogues. Even more concerning are the novel synthetic opioids that are now being found in toxicology reports. Some of these are even stronger than fentanyl – nitazine, for example.
Opioid prescription rates have steadily declined in recent years, which is excellent news considering that overprescribing got us down this path in the first place. But clearly there is something else going. In particular, it’s evident that there is an incredibly high demand for stimulants, even stimulants known to be contaminated with extremely powerful sedatives like fentanyl.
My guest this month is special agent Tommy Farmer of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Dangerous Drugs Task Force. He also serves on the state’s Opioid Abatement Council. In this conversation, we dive into the history of methamphetamine in Tennessee, and how law enforcement has responded over the past thirty years. Drug trends have changed a lot during that time, and the federal and state legal landscape along with it. Most importantly, how and where drugs are being produced has changed dramatically, resulting in profound consequences.
Produced and edited by Jeremy Kourvelas. Original music by Blind House.
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