CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - The Chatham County Counter Narcotics Team says they are putting in work on drug seizures to prevent a climbing number of overdoses nationwide and here in the Coastal Empire.
Last month, the Georgia Department of Public Health released Chatham County as a top county for ER visits due to overdoses. The top five counties don’t include the major Atlanta metro area because the statistic is based on per capita.
So even though they might see more individual cases, Chatham County’s rate of overdose emergency trips are actually higher.
In September, Carroll, Bibb, Dougherty, Bartow, and Chatham were ranked the highest counties with drug overdose emergency visits. The Coastal Health District is taking this data seriously.
“Any overdose is going to be a concern for us. Certainly, the fact that Chatham is listed as number five in the state for overdose visits is very concerning to us. It really tells us we have a lot to do in our area to make sure we are improving the safety of our residents,” said Sean Bear, Coastal Health District.
The data includes overdoses from over the counter, prescription and illicit drugs. Chatham County Counter Narcotics Team says this is why they do what they do across the board.
“This is important because the opioid epidemic is very much real and very much here in Chatham County. With that, we have to press that fight. We have to hold that line every day,” said Gene Harley, CNT.
CNT says their job is to be proactive and reactive to overdoses while also partnering with local agencies.
“The opioid epidemic is just that. It’s an epidemic. It’s not only felt nationally but felt here locally in Chatham County. One of the ways we try to combat that is participating in the DEA Prescription Drug Take Back, which is what we did this past Saturday,” said Harley.
As Chatham County sits in the number five spot for September, the number of overdose visits per capita has remained steady. Coastal Health District is pushing overdose prevention through improving opioid prescribing and preventing misuse through drug monitoring programs.
“I think those individuals affected by overdose are very much aware of the problem. But generally, I don’t think the general public is aware of the extent of this epidemic right now. There is a lot that can be done. This awareness and the reduction of stigma associated with this epidemic is really a great starting point for us,” said Bear.
Statewide, there were more than 1,200 drug overdose visits last month. That’s up 40 more than September of 2018.