Georgia among the top states with opioid overdose deaths

ATLANTA — The White House has declared the opioid crisis across the country as a public health emergency.

The super-potent narcotics are sending more Georgia users into critical overdose.

Officials at Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center said they are finding a mega dose of the reversal drug known as Narcan is the only thing saves people from a fatal overdose.

MONDAY AT 5: Prescription heroin: The alternative approach to opioid addiction?

“It's taking 10-20 times the amount of medicine to reverse it,” Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center President Kim Ryan told Stouffer.

Georgia stands among the top 11 states in the country with the most prescription opioid overdose deaths, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

“It’s shooting up taxes, it's shooting up costs for public safety and we're losing more Georgians,” said Len Pagano, president of the Safe America Foundation.

[READ: Fulton County to sue drug manufacturers in fight against opioid epidemic]

The department said deaths related to drug overdoses are now almost equal to deaths due to motor vehicle crashes.

Georgia has seen a significant rise in drug overdose deaths, tripling between 1999 and 2013, with a large part of them attributed to opioid use.

“I think this issue has really begun to overwhelm our communities. Most Georgians don't realize how serious this issue is,” Pagano said.

[READ: Walgreens to begin selling OTC Narcan to combat opioid epidemic]

Recent data from the department of health shows 55 of Georgia’s 159 counties had higher drug overdose rates than the U.S. average in 2014.

That rate marks a significant increase from 11 years ago, when just 26 Georgia counties exceeded the U.S. average.

Monday, we travel to one city that is using a controversial approach to helping the opioid epidemic and look into if it could be used in Georgia to help saves lives, on Channel 2 Action News at 5 p.m.