UPDATE: TBI warns public about fentanyl found in cocaine
Officials said several samples of cocaine submitted to their Middle and East Tennessee labs tested positive for fentanyl.
Cocaine laced with fentanyl is starting to appear in Tennessee
The discovery of the dangerous combination has led the TBI to issue a public safety warning.
"To be blunt, what you might buy and use, thinking it's a good time could cost you your life," TBI Assistant Director T.J. Jordan said.
The TBI hopes that warning will make an impact.
They said three cocaine samples tested in the TBI's Nashville and Knoxville labs found fentanyl. It's the first time this has happened.
The TBI said fentanyl has been found in heroine and counterfeit pills, but this is a game changer.
"We clearly have a problem here and we do want to alert the public that it's not a matter of if, it's simply a matter of when," TBI Special Agent In Charge Tommy Farmer said.
The drug combination has already killed people.
Law enforcement from an Atlanta suburb found a doctor and a realtor dead in August. It's unclear if that case is connected to what officials are seeing here in Tennessee.
"If you are a drug user, stop. Seek help. This is serious. People are dying," Jordan said.
That's where resources like Cumberland Heights can help.
Kasey Patterson is a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor who says the disturbing discovery is not surprising.
"You hear about all of these stories from other states and things and you think you're protected here in Tennessee, but just like everywhere else and anything else that comes along, it always finds its way here," Patterson said.
Patterson said addiction can come with a stigma, but it doesn't have to for those trying to become clean.
"People all day everyday, of all walks of life struggle with this. Being able to go to that one person you trust and tell them you need help is a huge step," Patterson said.
In some cases, fentanyl can be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
The TBI continues to an increase in the number of cases dealing with fentanyl.
The TBI said no one has died from the drug combination in Tennessee.
Channel 3 contacted several law enforcement agencies in the Tennessee Valley, but they have not come across it yet. They're closely monitoring this situation.
Those struggling with addition are urged to contact the Tennessee REDLINE at 1-800-889-9789.
Cumberland Heights is a local resource. They can be reached at 423-308-0689.
Stay with WRCBtv.com for more details on this developing story.