Since 2010, opioid overdose-related deaths have rapidly increased in Georgia. This is largely driven by the increased use and misuse of prescription opioids such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, as well as the abuse of illegal opioids like heroin and fentanyl. Click here to see a data sheet on opioid use in Georgia.
Ingesting more than the prescribed amount of opioids could lead to overdose, which poses serious medical risks such as permanent organ damage and even death. Some signs of an opioid overdose include:
- Awake, but unable to speak
- Limp posture
- Pale or clammy face
- Blue tone on fingernails or lips
- On lighter skin, tone turns bluish purple
- On darker skin, tone turns gray or ashen
- Breath is slow and shallow, erratic, or has stopped
- Pulse is slow, erratic, or not present
- Choking or gurgling sounds (sometimes called the “death rattle”)
To decrease the risk of opioid dependency or abuse, you can dispose of your prescription drugs at a location near you.
In case of an overdose, call 911.
In Georgia, you cannot be prosecuted for calling emergency medical services in the case of an overdose. Do not hesitate to get proper medical attention.
In emergency situations, Naloxone can be used to block or reverse the effects of opioid medication, such as extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing or loss of consciousness. However, patients should still seek medical treatment in case of an overdose.
Naloxone, including the Naloxone rescue kit, is available without a prescription from Georgia pharmacies.
Georgia Department of Public Health Drug Surveillance Unit
The Drug Surveillance Unit monitors overdose trends in Georgia and provides overdose data to the public and to partners working to end the opioid epidemic. This data is also used to detect and respond to rapid increases, or clusters, of overdoses, such as the Counterfeit Percocet-Related Overdose Cluster in Macon during June 2017.
The Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)
The Georgia PDMP is an electronic database used to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances. The PDMP can help eliminate duplicative prescribing and overprescribing of controlled substances and provide a prescriber or pharmacist with critical information regarding a patient’s controlled substance prescription history and protect patients at risk of abuse.
Georgia House Bill 249
- Effective July 1, 2017, dispensers will be required to enter prescription information for Schedule II, III, IV, V controlled substances within 24 hours. This will provide prescribers more efficient access to information with less wait time as they make the best clinical decisions possible for their patients.
- All prescribers will be required to register in the PDMP by Jan. 1, 2018. Currently only about 10 percent of prescribers in Georgia are registered in the PDMP. Prescribers already registered DO NOT need to re-register.
- Beginning July 1, 2018, prescribers will be required to check PDMP before prescribing opiates or cocaine derivatives in Schedule II drugs or benzodiazepines. (Prescribers are currently encouraged to check the PDMP but are not yet required to do so.)
House Bill 249 was designed to reduce prescription drug misuse in Georgia. Click here to learn how prescribers comply with the law.