The opioid epidemic has been looming nationwide but now seems to be in everyone’s back yard. Monday, 1st district Congressman Buddy Carter met with several area law enforcement agencies.
“I’ve seen addiction ruin families, careers. I’ve seen it ruin lives,” said Carter.
The congressman also talked about alarming numbers that now indicate that 115 people are dying each day nationwide from overdoses of opioids.
“A study recently released says the average life span of Americans has decreased for the first time in decades as a result of the opioid addictions,” said Carter.
Carter told area law enforcement he wanted to hear from them and says in terms of how communities are being affected, that there is some grant money available for treatment, etc.
Mary Fuller, the Project Coordinator for the Bryan County Opioid Prevention Project also attended. “Right now we’re working with the school system in a couple of different ways to try and prevent youth from utilizing prescription drugs and opioids,” she told us.
The Georgia Department of Health says the highest numbers of deaths from overdoses are between the ages of 25 and 34. It also says that young men are dying of opioid overdoses at a higher rate than young women and that young Caucasian men are dying at higher rates that African Americans in the same age bracket (of 25-34.)
The report also says between 2010 and 2016, that deaths in Georgia from overdoes jumped 117%.
The City of Savannah recently joined the ranks of a few other city and county governments that are actually suing the manufacturers of opioids. Carter said he does support the move.
“And certainly the pharmaceutical manufacturers need to be held accountable for their role in this,” he said.
Carter, who is a pharmacist, also acknowledged that his profession has come under scrutiny in terms of all the prescription drugs that are being made available.
he also says as a pharmacist he knows his profession is being scrutinized. “It’s a delicate judgment that pharmacists have to make, we’re not law enforcement officers our role is to make sure that people get the medications that they need and make sure that people get well but at the same time,” said Carter. “But we do have a responsibility and we accept that responsibility to make sure that these drugs aren’t getting into the wrong hands.”
Carter says later this week a health committee in Congress will consider several dozen bills that are designed to try and help those in the grip of addiction.