Drug Epidemic Is a Community Issue
Drug overdoses have overtaken automobile accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Prescription opioids, illicit opioids, and illegally-made fentanyl are killing thousands of Americans — including young children — every day.
“The fentanyl epidemic is a community issue now. It’s out there and it’s around our kids,” said Ashley Black, a Georgia Overdose Prevention (GOP) Naloxone/Narcan distributor. Black is also affiliated with Georgia CARES, which has a mission to promote long-term recovery from substance use disorders by providing experienced peer support and advocating for self-directed care.
Black spoke recently at a quarterly community meeting in Wheeler County jointly sponsored by the Wheeler County Correctional Facility (CORE CIVIC) and the Wheeler County Chamber of Commerce.
continued from page
Before she offered to hand out free Narcan rescue kits to anyone in attendance who wished to sign up for one, Black discussed Georgia’s 911 Medical Amnesty and Expanded Naloxone Access Law passed in 2014. “This law protects you when you call 911 for help at an alcohol or drug overdose scene,” Black said.
The main take-aways from this law are: e rescuer and the victim cannot be arrested, charged, or prosecuted for small amounts of drugs, alcohol, or drug paraphernalia if the evidence was obtained as a result of seeking medical assistance.
Access to the opioid overdose “antidote” Naloxone, which is sold under the brand name Narcan, is increased.
“It is not illegal to possess Narcan. You can carry it in your car or your purse,” Black said, adding that Narcan is a “miracle drug” that can reverse an overdose from most opioids, including prescription and nonprescription street drugs laced with fentanyl.
Black said that anyone in Georgia who knows a person at risk of opioid overdose can legally obtain Naloxone/Narcan and can administer it to someone believed to have experienced an opioid overdose. The drug is now available without a prescription and over the counter at Georgia pharmacies. On March 29, 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it had approved Narcan 4 mg nasal spray medication for nonprescription over-the-counter use.
GOP distributes free Naloxone to anyone at high risk of opioid overdose and to their loved ones. (Visit www.georgiaoverdoseprevention. org).
Having Narcan on hand, and knowing how to administer it quickly can mean the difference between life and death, Black stressed. “It can reverse the effects of opioids and it is not harmful. It cannot cause an overdose or be overused,” Black said. She emphasized that OTC Narcan is safe to give to kids and adults of all ages, “and it is a recommended medication to have at your disposal no matter if you’re taking your first opioid medication or if you’ve been taking one for years.”
Black referenced the GOP’s mission. “Our message is simple. If you witness a drug or alcohol related overdose, ‘Don’t Run—Call 911.’ If they are still alive, there’s hope.”
Black is also executive director of RISEUP. The organization, based in Dublin, has a mission to provide a safe, supportive community setting for individuals and families in recovery and to establish, maintain and enhance recovery through utilization of peer support by offering nonclinical activities that engage, educate and empower.
RISEUP is an acronym for “Recover in Supportive Environment Utilizing Peers.” The program is available to anyone in recovery. All services provided by RISEUP are free and include the provision of a hiring specialist and computers to help program participants with resume building, job readiness, job placement and tutoring.
Other services include one-on-one counseling; recovery advocacy; recovery check in sessions; building community awareness about the drug epidemic and programs to counteract it; Narcan education; and recovery meetings. The RISEUP center in Dublin offers a supportive environment with activities for those in recovery and their families. For more information, visit www.riseupdublin. com.