The Summit Counseling Center will host a heroin and opioid prevention education workshop for the community on Saturday, September 24th from 9:00am-12:00pm at their main office located at 2750 Old Alabama Rd., Johns Creek, GA. This workshop is free of charge, but registration is required by calling 678-893-5300 or registering online at SummitCounseling.org. The workshop will cover current state laws, education surrounding family intervention and treatment options, and a Narcan training program. Attendees will receive a Narcan training certificate at the completion of the training program.
On January 12, 2016 Fulton County DA, Paul Howard released A Brief Window of Opportunity: Heroin in North Fulton County Report, the results of a 6 month study that confirmed what was happening in our North Atlanta suburbs, referred to as the Heroin Triangle. The national headlines of heroin and opioid use reaching unprecedented levels is now the story of our own community.
According to the report, “The data concerning place of death and place of residence indicate that for the past two years the majority (73%) of heroin‐related overdose deaths that occurred in Fulton County took place within Atlanta Zip Codes. Of those that died in Atlanta, 4% lived in north Fulton County, while 18%, or just under one in five, resided in the northern suburbs including north Fulton County. A total of 34 persons died of heroin overdoses in north Fulton County, with 71% of those having resided in north Fulton County and 79% having resided in the northern suburbs including north Fulton County. Taken together, these findings indicate that the majority of heroin deaths in Fulton County over the past two years have taken place within Atlanta itself, with fewer than 20% of the decedents hailing from the northern suburbs, including north Fulton. Almost one quarter (22%) of heroin‐related deaths in Fulton County occur in north Fulton, with most of those decedents being from north Fulton County. This suggests that heroin users are more likely than not to die within close proximity to their place of residence, regardless of whether they lived in Atlanta or north Futon County. This also lends support to our finding that heroin availability is increasing in the suburbs, making it no longer necessary to drive into Atlanta to purchase heroin.”
In 2014, Gov. Deal signed in to law Georgia’s statewide Medical Amnesty/Good Samaritan and Naloxone access bill. This law authorizes Georgia practitioners to begin issuing prescriptions for Opioid Antagonists (Naloxone). Unlike traditional prescriptions, practitioners may prescribe an opioid antagonist in the name of an organization, clinic, or law enforcement agency. Allowing organizations like the Summit the opportunity to provide training to family members, friends, or other persons in a position to assist a person at risk of experiencing an opioid related overdose.
Narcan is the brand name for naloxone, an opioid antagonist medication used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, now available in nasal spray form. When someone overdoses on an opioid drug like heroin or prescription painkillers, the drug depresses the respiratory and central nervous systems, disrupting breathing and potentially leading to death. Naloxone is used to counter the effects of opioid overdose. Specifically, it is used in opioid overdoses to counteract life threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally.
“Abusers hardly ever start with heroin,” says Ewell Hardman, Master Addictions Counselor at the Summit. “Prior to late 2013, use began with marijuana mostly, some drinking. Now first use is more likely to involve a Controlled Prescription Drug (CPD) from the medicine cabinet at home, but being used for recreational use.”
While it is important to train more people in our community how to administer Narcan, it is more important to help those people being saved from overdose to see the risks they are exposing themselves to and helping them find treatment. That is why the Summit is not only offering the Narcan training program, we are also raising awareness about addiction and the importance of getting those in need into treatment.
Narcan alone, isn’t the solution to the rash of opioid overdoses in North Fulton County. However, it does provide a critical second chance at getting better. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease. Through intervention and treatment, it is possible to tackle the underlying problems associated with addiction….there is HOPE!
About the Summit Counseling Center.
The Summit Counseling Center is a non-profit counseling center located in North Fulton County. Through partnerships with local schools, churches, civic organizations, and other non-profit organizations, the Summit provides awareness, education and counseling services….with the vision of “A community that is mentally well and stigma free.” Visit our website at SummitCounseling.org to learn more about the Summit and the services we provide.