The numbers are staggering. 70,000 Americans die of overdoses every year. Two-thirds of those from opioids.
The goal is to decrease those numbers by bringing together people from different fields who deal with the crisis every day.
“130 Americans are dying every day from opioid abuse,” explained US Attorney Bobby Christina.
In Georgia, that number is about 1000 a year.
The biggest areas of abuse and overdose, Atlanta, followed by Augusta and Chatham County.
That’s why medical professionals, military experts and law enforcement from 43 counties in our area gathered for a first of its kind meeting to compare practices and problems.
“We don’t see all those sides, we really operate largely in our own silos. So to sit down together and see how we can help each other and what the issues are is invaluable,” explained Dr. Jeff Kenney, St Joseph’s Candler, ER, Medical Director at St Joseph’s
“A lot of it is prevention not just prosecution and that’s why i just want to get some of the real subject matters around the table and say to them without a chip on my shoulder hey guys I have resources, help me place them in the right place. and if getting out of your lane is the right answer, tell me that too.” said Bobby Christine.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office set up this event to give everyone a voice. From law enforcement who deal with the selling of the drugs to the doctors who treat opioid addicts. and are searching for new ways to fight back.
“There’s a much bigger focus on providing non-opioid pain treatments both in the hospital and at home,” explained Dr. Kenney. “So we are doing that. There is an emphasis on trying to get providers to help patients with chronic opioid use disorder to get off opioids. There is real evidence that using a medication-assisted treatment like methadone and suboxone can really be effective to help people stop abusing opioids.”
This was the first meeting of its kind, but it’s not the last.
The U.S. Attorney wants to meet twice a year to put some of the plans discussed into action.