This is the first of a two-part series by our staff writer.
Opioid addiction is the country’s latest epidemic. Public health officials have called the current opioid epidemic the worst drug crisis in American history, killing more than 33,000 people in 2015. It’s showing no signs of letting up— and Georgia is not immune.
Last year alone, there were 982 deaths in Georgia from an opioid-related drug overdose— a death toll that has increased tenfold since 1999 according to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. That number ranks Georgia among the top 11 states with the most opioid overdose deaths, and 55 Georgia counties have an overdose rate higher than the national average.
From June of 2016 to May of 2017, the total number of opioid doses prescribed to Georgia patients surpassed 541 million (put into perspective, that is approximately 54 doses for every man, woman and child in Georgia).
“We have an epidemic that is showing no signs of easing,” said Carr. “And it’s have a major impact on our state, our country. It’s time to fight back. We must work to make sure there are no more deaths, no more tears, no more heartbreaks because of opioids We need to do a better job of connecting across all areas of expertise to specify what each other is doing and, together, leverage the strengths we each have to collectively combat this crisis”.
Carr is hoping his newly created statewide task force will provide some answers.
The task force is unique in that it is open to all Georgians. “It’s time to bring everyone to the table on this issue,” said Carr. “I didn’t make an appointment to the task force. I want all stakeholders involved in this because this is a universal problem. We will provide the platform, but the people are the experts.”
The state’s attorney general has also announced plans to participate in National Drug Take Back Day. According to Carr’s office, “National Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse.”
Carr and his staff are working in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, chiefs of police, the Georgia Sheriffs Association and participating pharmacies to spread the word to ensure that Georgia is at the forefront of nationwide efforts.
The second part of staff writer Cindy Morley’s report will be published tomorrow.