It has not been a good week for Georgia…
As many as four people died in 48 hours in Georgia earlier this week, as the state was overwhelmed with opioid overdoses, particularly in middle Georgia, according to health officials. Over a dozen overdoses were reported in three emergency departments in Bibb County and in some of the surrounding counties in a matter of only two days, says Chris Hendry, Navicent Health's chief medical officer.
This report followed that of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which was issued earlier in the day on Tuesday. That report included information on "dozens" of overdoses that had been reported in Albany, Centerville, Macon, Perry, and Warner Robins. Those who did not succumb to a fatal overdose suffered from conditions like being unconscious, or needing assistance from a ventilator in order to breathe. Nelly Miles, a spokeswoman for GBI, stated that as more reports were due to come in, the number of deaths were expected to rise.
The overdose is due to the introduction of a new drug to Georgia's streets, which consists of yellow pills that are being pedaled as Percocet, according to Hendry. Whatever the drug actually is, its side effects are known in that it can cause severe levels of unconsciousness, as well as respiratory failure. Hendry warned residents to abstain from taking any medications other than those that are prescribed to them by their doctor or that are obtained from a pharmacy.
Officials were waiting on toxicology reports from the victims in order to deduce what the drug might actually be. It has been deduced taht the drug may be a homemade concoction. Present was an opioid of unknown variety, as well as the ever-present –and ever-deadly – fentanyl, which has been a culprit in several fatal overdoses that have occurred in recent years across the country, most notably the death of legendary musician Prince, whose autopsy revealed the drug to be in his system. As with many other street drugs, it is not uncommon for pills to also be laced with other known or as-yet unknown drugs.
However, what the Georgia Department of Public Health does know, and has acknowledged in a public statement, is that whatever the drug is, it is "extremely potent." While the overdose reports have so far been limited to middle and southern Georgia, public health officials warn that the drug may indeed appear on the streets in other parts of the state.
The opioid epidemic has been powerful, fast-moving and deadly. So powerful and fast-moving has it been that drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50 years old. In Georgia alone, drug overdoses were responsible for the deaths of about 1,000 people per year between the years of 2006 and 2014, according to a recent analysis. The most common opioids that have been responsible for these overdoses include heroin, fentanyl, and the most potent and deadly of all: carfentanil.