SEPTEMBER IS OPIOID ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH IN FULTON COUNTY
Fulton County government has declared September Opioid Abuse Prevention Month. The Opioid epidemic is a national crisis that has hit our County hard. Death rates in Fulton County associated with opioids (prescription pain pills, fentanyl, and heroin) are twice the national average and continue on a growing trajectory despite a dramatic increase in the use of overdose reversing drugs such as naloxone.
We can reverse these negative trends but it is going to take the work of all of us. Part of that work involves educating ourselves about the dangers of these highly addictive substances and being more aggressive in our preventative efforts. This month Fulton County government will be providing a number of educational messages through social media and other means and we have asked our schools, cities and other agencies to share these as well.
We know that prescription pills can be highly addictive (4 out of 5 heroin addicts start with prescription pills). We also know that the growth in prescriptions of opioid pain pills has been astronomical in the United States and in Georgia. This growth in prescriptions corresponds directly to the growth in overdose deaths as well.
This week I met with representatives from some of the major medical and dental associations in Georgia and metro Atlanta to discuss efforts underway to educate their member physicians and focus on making a significant reduction in opiate prescription trends. I am encouraged by the work being done and look forward to working with them to support this effort.
The opiate crisis is complex and its negative impacts are severe and often heartbreaking. This week, I had the opportunity to meet the family of Isaiah Ward, a 9-year old Atlanta boy tragically killed while out with his brother and a friend in their neighborhood when he was struck by a driver who police say was a known heroin addict and using at the time. The opioid crisis is taking a toll on entire communities and the death of Isaiah is one that needs to be remembered and serve as a call for action to all of us.
I ask for your help in fighting this crisis. Educate yourself and others this month about the dangers of opioids and engage in preventative efforts to help combat this crisis.
For more information on the crisis and the resources available, visit our website at http://www.fultoncountyga.gov/soa-home.
Please have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend!