For decades, the devastation and heartbreak of addiction in our country, our state, our communities and our families has been ubiquitous. Many of us feel the devastation on an individual level and all of us are affected on a more systemic level. Jails and prisons are rife with people who have a substance use disorder, child welfare systems are feeling the impact in the number of children needing foster care, hospitals emergency rooms are treating record numbers of individuals for overdose, and treatment and recovery programs are seeing an increase in people seeking recovery for opiate use disorders.
In this country, more than 130 people a day are dying from opiate overdoses alone, and Georgia’s share of those tragic deaths are between 3-4 citizens per day. There is broad consensus that something needs to be done.
We have seen an influx of federal and state resources targeted at prevention, treatment and recovery efforts. Georgia is part of a lawsuit aimed at holding pharmaceutical companies responsible for promoting irresponsible prescribing practices. We have passed legislation promoting the use of overdose reversal drugs and providing legal amnesty for an individual reporting an overdose they are witnessing.
We have passed legislation to create and maintain a prescription drug monitoring program. And we have embarked on a cross-system, comprehensive Multi-Stakeholder Opioid and Substance Use Response Plan that has brought attention to the issue and developed a strategic plan with recommendations to address this public health crisis.