Rise in overdose cases in Chatham Co. in first 4 months of 2021

Rise in overdose cases in Chatham Co. in first 4 months of 2021

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - An alarming trend continues in Chatham County involving drug overdoses.

Friday, the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team Director gave County Commission some insight into the battle to keep sometimes deadly illegal drugs out of the community.

More and more people are having to be rushed to the hospital following a drug overdose in Chatham County.

This is data from Chatham Emergency Services for the past three years of suspected overdoses they’ve responded to. In the first four months of 2019, there were 380 suspected overdoses. Same time period for 2020 rose to 472 cases. In the first four months of this year, we’re already at 596 cases.

Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Director, Michael Sarhatt, told County Commissioners his agency is trying to put a dent in those numbers from the law enforcement side, and pointed out how an arrest of a drug supplier earlier this month is already helping.

“Since we seized that kilo of fentanyl, there’s been one overdose death. So we are not by any stretch of the imagination the end-all to stop this, but we are effective,” Sarhatt said.

Sarhatt pointed out overdoses are often accidental, because potent fentanyl gets laced into opioids like heroin. Fentanyl can also find its way into pills that are manufactured on the street and made to look like legit medication.

“Some people think they’re just taking their normal pain medicine that they were taking. It’s coming from the streets and instead it’s laced with a higher alternative narcotic, much more potent,” said Dr. Jay Goldstein, ER Medical Director at Memorial Health. “So when they take that medication they’re not expecting the effect that they have. If they’re not around somebody that realizes the effect that can give them that life-saving antidote, Narcan, it causes them to succumb.”

The CNT director said they had a spike in overdose cases this March and thinks that could be because people spent stimulus money on drugs.

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