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Heroin and Opioid Addiction Exploding in Georgia

More Georgians are killed by drugs than traffic accidents.

The rapid increase in recent years of the abuse and addiction to prescribed opiate pain medications in the Georgia has resulted in unprecedented numbers of otherwise law-abiding Georgians having to contend with one of the most powerful drug addictions known, opiate addiction.

Efforts have been concentrated toward reducing addiction and overdose in Georgia's inner cities, all the while problems continued to rise in rural areas. The main increases were in opioid pills from pharmacies or counterfeit pills from the streets along with increases in heroin from Mexico and the Middle East.

Deaths from overdose of drugs climbed ten percent from 2013 to 2014, with heroin overdose deaths in just four counties in Northern Atlanta increasing more than 4000% in just a few years.

Recent legislation adopted in the state has made obtaining prescribed opiates such as hydrocodone and oxycodone much more difficult for people who abuse them. The Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency manages Georgia's PDMP, Prescription drug Monitoring Program through a program called PMPAware.

All dispensing pharmacies in the state are required to submit information into this agency whenever they dispense controlled substance, including powerful opiate pain relievers, anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines and any other medications listed as Schedule II, III or IV drugs by the US Food and Drug Administration.

This has already shown to be effective in reducing the practice of "doctor shopping", patients visiting multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions for controlled drugs. An unintended side-effect however has been the unprecedented increase in heroin abuse. Withdrawal symptoms experienced by addicts unable to obtain their pills can be reduced or completely alleviated by heroin.

So heroin, to which Georgia hasn't been a stranger, is becoming more prevalent and mainstream. Parents, teachers, respected members of both urban and rural communities are becoming he latest victims of the illicit heroin that floods the state.

The heroin coming into the Peach State is changing as well. A synthetic analogue of heroin called carfentanil is being added to the mix by Georgia drug dealers who want to boost their profit margins. By using the synthetic, illegal additive, their supplies of real heroin can be stretched, resulting in greater profits. Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, the drug that heroin breaks into in the bloodstream, and was never intended for use by humans.

One researcher in the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) crime chemistry department said "(Carfentanil) is probably the scariest drug I've seen in my 20 years here."

When good people make poor choices, even when those poor choices have been spurred on by ill-intended "friends", the consequences can be devastating. Overdose deaths from heroin laced with carfentanil are becoming more and more common nationwide. Unfortunately, Georgia is following suit.

Illicit Drug Use in the Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older in Georgia, by Substate Region: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2010, 2011, and 2012 NSDUHs (Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

According to a report issued by the state attorney General, Heroin-related deaths may be spiking Nationwide as Alpharetta police say, but it still is not one of the top drugs for overdose deaths in Georgia.

Georgia State Government Agencies

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