It is hitting home

The opioid epidemic you’ve been hearing about is impacting this area

If you really want to know whether you’re keeping ahead of something, you look. You may also measure.


When it comes to the nation’s opioid epidemic, one measurement tells you all you need to know:

“Blue Cross and Blue Shield,” says one report, “recorded a 493 percent increase in people diagnosed with opioid use disorders from 2010 through 2016. At the same time, there was only a 65 percent increase in the number of people using medication-assisted treatment.

“It’s easier to get high than to get help for addiction.”

Indeed, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, “Only about 10 percent of people with a substance use disorder receive any type of specialty treatment.”

As we heard in earnest in the recent presidential election cycle – particularly from our friends in hard-hit early-voting state New Hampshire – opioids have become a national emergency. “By 2015,” says one report, “opioid overdose deaths totaled more than 33,000 – close to two-thirds of all drug overdose deaths.”

What started as a family of painkillers has turned into killers.

Augusta and Georgia haven’t been immune. Not in any way, shape or form.

“It is a bad situation,” reports Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen. “People just don’t realize what (opioids) can do.”

Bowen estimates his office now sees some five opioid deaths a month.

Such cases, as well as all other suspicious, unattended or unnatural deaths are no doubt swamping the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s ability to investigate – including performing toxicology results that are often central to deaths that involve crimes.

Credit the legislature and Gov. Nathan Deal, though, for taking bold action in the past year or so.

“In a request to the Georgia Pharmacy Board,” the governor’s office announced last December, “Deal asked that Naloxone, an emergency drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, be removed from the dangerous drug list and rescheduled as a Schedule V exempt drug. The Georgia Board of Pharmacy approved the emergency rule to remove Naloxone. At the same time, Deal directed the Department of Public Health to issue a standing order to allow Naloxone to be dispensed over-the-counter by pharmacists across the state.”

Then, this spring, Deal signed several bills the legislature passed to deal with the epidemic. One bill codified making Naloxone more readily available. Another moved the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program from the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to the Department of Public Health – which recognizes the problem is a health problem as much or more than a law enforcement problem.

We applaud our state leaders for responding boldly to what is a growing societal problem.

From chronic pain sufferers to “recreational” users to those medicating themselves because of a lack of meaning in their lives, opioid abuse has essentially become Public Enemy No. 1. We’ve heard of cases in which government benefits, such as food stamps, have even been sold on the black market to get money for opioids.

It’s one more reason to secure our borders, considering that many such drugs from China and elsewhere are coming in illegally.

Hang on tight. This is just beginning.

And it has come home.

Jayce James 21 days ago
Time for Georgia to seriously consider legalizing 420. Not one reported death from an overdose. Ever.
Val White 20 days ago

Yeah, the liberal dream.  Keep everyone mellowed out on marijuana so they're too busy eating brownies and Cheetos and not paying attention to the demise of the U.S.

MJ may not be responsible for overdoses, but it is responsible for addling a brain and is just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes.  How crazy is it to ban smoking in public places, sue cigarette companies, have "Stop Smoking" campaigns then turn around and promote smoking marijuana?  The smoker holds the smoke in the lungs as long as s/he can hold their breath so eventually does the same damage as cigarettes.

BTW, one of my family members smoked it for years, owned his own successful business for a number of years before the weed prevented him from even being able to figure out the simplest managerial tasks and his wife had to actually go to classes to be able to do what needed to be done.  He eventually got cancer and died too soon. 

B. M. Michales 17 days ago
Give the dope heads all they want and make it 10 times stronger so they will eliminate themselves. Crime will then go way down.
Johnny Rio 20 days ago
The only way that has shown to be effective in stopping bad behavior affecting the public health is education. It has worked with cigarettes users. Few smoke today. Law enforcement has been shown to have little effect on illegal drug usage, yet billions have been spent. Throw that money into educating about the dangers of usage, starting in childhood and continuing with  ad and other campaigns aimed at adults. That will produce positive results. 
Val White 20 days ago

You may be just whistling past the graveyard thinking the liberal educators would discourage drug use.  They and the left are all for doing whatever feels good.  Most of the professors are the old hippies from the 60's who were raised on MJ, LSD and whatever else happened to be the drug de jour.

But, yes, the kids should be made aware of the dangers of using any mind altering drug.

Val White 20 days ago

The public continually complains about the length of time it takes for a new drug to be released for use.  Judging by all the lawsuits against the drug manufacturers, maybe even more time is needed for study before release.

It boggles my mind as to why doctors do not force many follow-ups of the patients whom they have prescribed an opioid long after that prescription has run out to ensure there's no long-term effect.

Gangs and guns were the major problems with our porous borders, but these illegal drugs seem to be just as deadly.  

Jerry Whitcomb 20 days ago
I know it is not a popular view, but just like gang members killing each other, I cannot get to worked up about people stupid enough to self medicate with opioids. These people have a death wish. Give it to them. It's a self correcting problem and an automatic reduction in future SSI, welfare, food stamp, and Medicaid payments.. That is where all of them will end up if they don't die meth heads but with teeth. . 
Jennifer Hodge 20 days ago
Jerry, you are so wrong! Probably 85% of these people dying today was because of Big Pharma, paying doctors to prescribe the most addictive drugs to as many people as they could. They got rich, we lost a generation....please, take the time to study this. Your views on addiction may change - Arrogance and Ignorance do not go together.
B. M. Michales 17 days ago
I have had surgery and was prescribed strong pain meds and I DID NOT get hooked. The 85% you refer to hooked themselves, no one made them take the pills.
B. M. Michales 17 days ago
Your view is popular with me. I agree 100%!


Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:33

Why not fix what’s there?

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:31

This is war

Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:30

A scandal of his own making?

Sat, 07/22/2017 - 22:57

Griffin’s outrage endures