• Drug battle: New tech could help better identify dangerous trends involving opioids

    By: Dave Huddleston

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - It's an issue impacting many people across the nation, and Channel 2 Action News is getting new insight into Georgia's battle with the opioid crisis.

    In 2017 alone, opioids caused more than 1,000 deaths in our state.

    A new grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worth $5 million a year for three years will allow the Georgia Department of Public Health to continue current opioid programs and to start new ones.

    A lot of the programs center around collecting data. It may not sound glamorous, but it's crucial to identifying the most dangerous trends. 

    "The unfortunate thing about this epidemic is there's no one data source that really presents the whole picture it's very hard to get at who is at risk of addiction and who's currently addicted and at risk of overdose," said Dr. Laura Edison with Georgia Department of Public Health.


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    One new tool is the "OD Map," which allows first responders to enter real-time data to report overdoses. 

    The map allows officers in futures cases to document what they're dealing with. 

    "Then it allows the department to have a better picture statewide of where the overdoses are occurring if there's any spikes in potential overdoses," said Dr. Chris Rustin with Georgia Department of Public Health.

    The map also helps authorities track the use of Narcan, the drug used to revive overdose patients.

    From 2010 to 2017, the total number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Georgia jumped 245 percent.

    There was a decrease in 2018, but health officials are cautiously optimistic. They realize there's still a long way to go.

    "To work with our stakeholders across the state to better strategies on how I guess as an agency we can better respond to this crisis and hopefully end this crisis one day in the future," Rustin said.

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