Facts about the Opioid Problem in Atlanta
If you haven’t heard about the heroin and opioid crisis in your subdivision or neighborhood yet, then consider yourself lucky. It’s everywhere and it’s spreading.
In 2015, heroin and opioid drugs killed more people in counties inside ‘The Triangle’ than murders and car accidents combined in 2015. That is a statistic you can’t look away from. Overall in the past 7 years, heroin-related deaths have gone up almost 4000% in Fulton, Dekalb, Cobb and Gwinnett Counties. Death it seems has come to the burbs and most of these deaths occurred in Atlanta’s northern wealthy suburbs.
“Ninety percent of the people who initiate heroin use are white males between the ages of 18 and 25,” says Kevin Baldwin, an author of a new study focused on the opioid problem in Atlanta. “In more affluent areas, people are starting [even] younger.”
Sadly for many families of these new addicts, they were regular kids from average families with no obvious clues that they were at risk for addiction. Growing up they were teenagers engaged in community and sports but somehow, someway opioids were introduced and everything changed. Don’t be fooled, these drugs aren’t like the ones in the 1970s that we remember. The increased quality and strength of these latest drugs make addiction (or sadly even death) after one use easily possible. Regular kids can become addicts overnight.
Locally 11Alive and AJC have covered the problem:
How Did It Begin?
Purdue Frederick the makers of Oxycontin, an opioid prescribed drug for pain came onto the market in 1996. They did a huge campaign getting the word out at pain conferences. Their next step was a reward system that gave doctors a $3K bonus for successfully sharing their stories. And it just kept growing from there.
Doctors have always known that certain pain medications were addictive, however, there were strict limits on who was allowed to receive them, for example only terminal cancer patients were recipients at one time. But the makers of these opioids (Oxy) insisted this was different. By the year 2000, 70,000 physicians were on board prescribing it. No longer was it illegal to help people with their “pain”.
By 2011, addiction specialists were trying to fight the cresting tide. It was too late.
Within the next several years, the cost of prescription painkillers would reach $18 billion annually in the US. There would be 92,000 opioid poisoning visits to hospital emergency rooms at a national cost of about $1.4 billion, and nearly 19,000 overdose deaths.
The facts started to come in. A study in the UK showed that people were worse off after 6 months of being on Oxycontin. Similar studies in other countries showed the same. Opioids are addictive because it retrains the brain the threshold of happiness to where you only feel normal being on it. And to go off of it makes you depressed. From there the gateway to heroin is simple.
Fact: Those addicted to prescription opiates like oxycodone are 40 times more likely to develop a heroin abuse problem. Oxycodone is a pain-relieving drug that is prescribed frequently to address moderate to severe pain.
The Good News
Today every doctor in Georgia must get training on proper prescribing of opioids under a rule approved very recently by the Georgia Composite Medical Board.
I would actually say if there is any addiction in your background, to absolutely refuse going on an opioid, even under a hospital situation. Once your body is on it, it’s so hard to get off. It’s not worth it.
Colleges are a new breeding ground for potential addicts.
The deadly opioid epidemic sweeping the country has largely spared college campuses, but drug abuse experts warn administrators they should be paying closer attention.
“This is a time when young adults have more access to substances than ever before and have more economic leverage and legal protections,” said Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Youth Continuum in Minnesota.
Want to learn more about the opioid problem in Atlanta? Coming up in Woodstock is an open forum on Monday October 2nd addressing the growing problem in Cherokee County.
Thanks for reading. If opioids has affected you or your families life and you are looking for counseling in Roswell, GA please contact me.