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Georgia Opioid Overdose Deaths Rise Despite Limited Treatment Options!


Georgia is facing a severe opioid crisis, evidenced by the alarming rate of over 1,400 annual deaths due to opioid overdoses. This growing epidemic poses significant challenges to the state, particularly in terms of the limited availability of long-term treatment resources and centers.

These resources are crucial in effectively addressing and managing the complex nature of opioid addiction, which is not only a health concern but also a social and economic issue. The state’s struggle against this insidious disease is compounded by these resource limitations, highlighting the need for more robust and accessible treatment options.

Efforts are underway to combat the opioid crisis in Georgia. These initiatives aim to increase the availability of long-term treatment options and enhance the support systems for those affected by opioid addiction.  The article delves into the details of these efforts, examining both their successes and the challenges that remain.

It also sheds light on the human aspect of this crisis, sharing stories of individuals and families impacted by opioid addiction, thus providing a comprehensive view of the situation in Georgia. The opioid crisis in Georgia is a multifaceted issue that has been escalating over the years, particularly since the 1990s with the rise in opioid prescriptions.

Georgia Opioid Overdose Deaths Rise Despite Limited Treatment Options!

This crisis has seen a dramatic increase in opioid-related overdose deaths, particularly from 2010 to 2020, with a 207% increase in these fatalities in Georgia. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the situation, leading to a 101% increase in opioid-related overdose deaths from 2019 to 2021.

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, has been a significant contributor to this surge, with fentanyl-related overdose deaths increasing by 124% during the same period. In 2021 alone, 71% of the 2,390 drug overdose deaths in Georgia were attributed to opioids, and 57% were specifically due to fentanyl.

In response to this crisis, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has initiated various programs, including the Opioid and Substance Misuse Response, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), and the Drug Surveillance Unit. These programs aim to monitor and control the prescription and distribution of opioids, as well as gather data to understand and address the crisis more effectively.

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Georgia Opioid Overdose Deaths Rise Despite Limited Treatment Options!

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) also plays a critical role as the state’s opioid authority. It focuses on patient care and oversees opioid treatment programs statewide, providing clinical guidance and protocols for evidence-based treatment.

The DBHDD received an $11.8 million grant in 2017 from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) for the State Targeted Response (STR) to the opioid crisis. This funding supports initiatives to increase access to treatment, reduce unmet treatment needs, and decrease opioid overdose-related deaths through various prevention, treatment, and recovery activities.

Significant efforts have been made in prevention, including training first responders in naloxone administration and distributing naloxone kits, which have led to hundreds of overdose reversals. Public service announcements focusing on Georgia’s Good Samaritan law and naloxone availability have been disseminated widely.

For treatment, the Office of Addictive Diseases has contracted with providers to offer Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) to uninsured and underinsured Georgians with opioid use disorders. In terms of recovery, initiatives include peer warm lines, recovery coaching in hospital emergency departments, and revising recovery residence programs to align with various recovery pathways.

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Georgia Opioid Overdose Deaths Rise Despite Limited Treatment Options!

Continued efforts in the second year of the STR grant include doubling naloxone distribution to first responders, releasing additional public service announcements, and expanding recovery coaching and community organization support for those seeking recovery.

This comprehensive approach by various state departments and organizations underscores the severity of the opioid crisis in Georgia and the concerted efforts being made to tackle it. Through these initiatives, the state aims to mitigate the impact of this epidemic and provide essential support to those affected.

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