Georgia to Get Funding for Massive Increase in Heroin Overdoses
Not unlike many states nationwide, Georgia has been experiencing a dramatic uptick in prescription opioid painkiller and heroin abuse in recent years. The onslaught of prescription painkiller availability is believed to be contributed to heroin addiction, as well.
It’s not uncommon for patients to get addicted to the prescription drug, and when it runs out, they turn to heroin, the cheaper and more widely available alternative. Opioids and heroin are both highly-addictive and can result in death upon overdose. The respiratory and central nervous system become so depressed that the body simply shuts down.
Federal statistics reveal that about 4.5 million patients abuse painkillers in 2013, and almost 300,000 were heroin users. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose fatalities from prescription opioids nearly quadrupled between 1999-2013.
During that time, heroin overdoses also rose 39%. Also, around 45% of heroin users were addicted to prescription painkillers, as well. And a former state medical examiner, Dr. Kris Perry, publicly stated that heroin overdoses have significantly increased over the past few years.
Funding and New Policies
Recently, Georgia was awarding federal funding – almost $800,000, to help battle the problem of opioid and heroin overdoses.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the funds are intended to support both Albany and Augusta health centers. They will expand and enhance services for substance abusers.
In a statement, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell had this to say:
“The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States today. Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and integrating these services in health centers bolsters nationwide efforts to curb opioid misuse and abuse, supports approximately 124,000 new patients accessing substance use treatment for recovery and helps save lives.”
In total, the U.S. government is reportedly awarding $94 million to various health centers nationwide, in attempt to improve access to substance abuse treatment. That could result in an additional 800 providers, in addition to the new patient support.
State Senator Bruce Thompson also hopes to pass legislation in the immediate future for the increasing heroin problem:
“We need to look at what can be done for those who are actually addicted. What do we do, to provide some support to get them clean and reintroduced back into society and then long term, we need to look at this and say what can we do to prevent this from coming into our state.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology