Chatham County 5th in state in opioid use, abuse

Crime & Safety

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Chatham County is fifth in the state in opioid abuse cases.

Only four counties in Metro Atlanta have higher numbers.

“You have absolutely no idea what you are getting when you look at a sample,” said Nelly Miles, GBI Public Affairs Director. “Just because it looks like one thing that’s no guarantee that’s what it will be.”

In 4000 samples the GBI looked at in 2017, the majority of them were meth. 1890 tests in all.

Cocaine was second with opioids getting stronger and more prevalent than ever.

“The biggest trend we are seeing is that the drugs are getting far more potent,” says Nelly Miles. “Now it’s so much more difficult for these scientists to test these cases. Because when you are talking about polydrugs with 5 or 6 components these are drugs that people are putting in their body, that’s a stark difference.”

Statistics show prescription pill use is on the rise in Georgia, as is the mixing of drugs like opioids and fentanyl.

“With illicit drugs, you don’t know what you are getting, how strong it is,” explains Deneen Kilcrease, GBI Chemistry Section Manager. “How many components are in there, and you don’t know how its going to affect you.”

To illustrate what they mean, the GBI tested 11 different variations of fentanyl alone last year in 4000 cases they dealt with.

The effect on children is also a focus of the GBI.

“Parents know they need to be on the lookout for needles or smoking devices or pills,” said Kilcrease. “But do they know they need to look out for candy, gummy worms, or brownies or cookies.”

Agents say the state now has more THC infused edibles, like cookies, than hydrocodone.

“We are seeing a portion of whats on the street, law enforcement only seizes a small piece of whats out there,” Kilcrease explained. “While it does represent the trends it’s nowhere near the totality of whats out there.”

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