Now more than ever, it’s important to be vigilant about the facts involving opiates, their continued prevalence in our society, and where to turn to for help if necessary.
After the Opioid Epidemic, What’s Happening Now?
In Georgia, the rise of fentanyl, listed in the class of opiates, is of major concern. A July 2021 news story in The Current put it simply: “Opioid abuse epidemic hits every part of state—no class, race, or age left out.”
Hannah Cooper, the Rollins Chair of Substance Use Disorders at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, stated in the same feature that the opioid crisis “is creating tremendous suffering in our communities,” citing spikes in 2021 overdoses and deaths as a direct result of “shock to the economic and social systems [that] helped lead to isolation, creating depression and anxiety, which can increase drug use.”
Fast-forward to November 2021, when WSB-TV reported on a severe naloxone shortage. Naloxone helps reverse opiate overdoses by quickly restoring respiratory function. However, a manufacturing downturn caused a reduction in available lifesaving kits, particularly in East Coast states. “Donations pay for the naloxone, but due to the shortage, Georgia Overdose Prevention is now only getting 1 percent of the thousands of doses ordered,” according to the story.
Unfortunately, as of May 2022, there was still a dangerous clash between rising overdoses—particularly as a result of fentanyl abuse—and a severe lack of naloxone.
So, while advances have been made regarding the level of opioid prescriptions issued and pharmacy fulfillment, as well as physicians helping patients find more holistic options to manage chronic pain and substance disorder recovery, illicit opiates are reason for grave concern. The Georgia Department of Public Health issued a release in February 2022 that indicated fentanyl-related deaths increased more than 100 percent in the past year. The primary cause is other drugs, such as crack, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, and pain killers are often laced with fentanyl—a lethal dose of which can be as small as the size of a pencil eraser.
Help for the Opiate Crisis in Georgia
Awareness and action are the two major factors to help in the fight against this persistent problem. Here are some of the major movements in Peach State.
The Georgia Department of Law partnered with the Statewide Opioid Task Force to create DOSE OF REALITY, a collection of resources to help people find their way out of opioid addiction. From military personnel to parents, students to coaches, there’s education, support groups, and crisis hotlines to provide immediate attention.
The mission of the Atlanta-Carolinas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, or ACHIDTA, is to “significantly reduce drug availability in its 3 State area by maximizing the collaborative and cooperative efforts of its law enforcement.”
Georgia Overdose Prevention promotes the 911 Medical Amnesty Law, which provides “protection for people who call 911 and seek medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug or alcohol-related overdose. The caller and the victim cannot be arrested, charged, or prosecuted for personal use quantities of drugs, alcohol, or drug paraphernalia if the evidence was obtained as a result of seeking medical assistance and the caller remains at the scene with the victim.” Georgia residents can also request a free naloxone kit if they have a friend or loved one at risk for opiate overdose.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy helps people properly get rid of prescription opiates through its free drug disposal program. Georgia residents can use the site’s location search function to find the disposal center closest to them, which is often a local pharmacy, grocery store, hospital, or police station.
The Georgia Council on Substance Abuse is an advocacy and education group that strives to support the restoration and wellness of individuals, families, and communities. It spearheaded efforts such as state bill HB1013, otherwise known as the Mental Health Parity Act, a directive to ensure that “mental health conditions and substance abuse disorder are treated the same as a physical health condition” by requiring insurance companies to obey the law and cover mental health care as they do other health services. The Council also rallied for greater funding for Narcan—the consumer version of naloxone—so rural police and first responders had ample supplies to save lives in the state’s most underserved counties.
Struggling With Opiate Addiction? Willingway Can Help
Our inpatient rehabilitation facility is located in Statesboro, GA, but our clients come from near and far to receive comprehensive, quality care. Our philosophy is to treat addiction as a brain disease, and our medical and clinical team treat individuals who have used almost all combinations and amounts of mood-altering chemicals, including alcohol, street drugs, prescription drugs, methadone, and others. We also have the ability to address anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, mood disorders, and other general emotional problems.
Depending on the level of addiction, the first stage of treatment by our board-certified staff might be medically supervised detoxification. Then, a continuum of care plan, customized to fit each individual’s specific needs, could include a wide range of methods to create a path to recovery, from cognitive behavioral therapy and 12-Step programs to gender-specific group therapy and the Tactical Recovery Veterans Program.
If you or a loved one needs focused, compassionate opioid treatment right away, consult a member of our admissions team anytime, day or night.