The Newnan Times-Herald


Opioid hospitalizations, deaths high in region

  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • Mar. 22, 2019 - 9:40 AM

Coweta’s rates for deaths from opioids in 2017 were lower than many surrounding categories, but in heroin deaths, Coweta was second only to Fulton County.

Data from 2017 was discussed at this week’s meeting of the Coweta Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

The numbers from 2018 won’t be available until the end of July, said Tami Morris, interim executive director of AV Pride, the organization that is overseeing the work of the local coalition.

There were six heroin-related deaths in Coweta in 2017, according to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health, and 14 total deaths from opioids. Coweta’s rate of heroin deaths, 4.7 per 100,000, is almost double the state rate of 2.6.

However, Coweta's rate of deaths from all opioids, including heroin, of 9.8 per 100,000 is less than the state rate of 10, and significantly lower than some surrounding counties.

There were 21 opioid-related deaths in Carroll County, a rate of 18.9, and 21 in Douglas, a rate of 14.3. Fulton County, Georgia’s most populous county, had 133 deaths, for a rate of 11.9.

Though Fayette County had fewer deaths, with eight, the rate is higher, 10.8, because of Fayette's lower population. Troup County had seven opioid-related deaths but the same rate as Coweta, at 9.8.

Statewide, deaths from opioid overdoses have jumped significantly since 2010, and deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids jumped by over 125 from 2016 to 2017, and are higher than heroin deaths.

There were 1,043 opioid-related deaths in 2017, up from 928 in 2016 and 890 in 2015. In 2010, there were only 426.

Heroin deaths were 267 in 2017, up from 228 in 2016, and just two in 2010.

The first fentanyl deaths were recorded in 2012, when there were 43, and 65 total synthetic opioid deaths. By 2014, there were 189 deaths related to synthetic opioids. There were 305 in 2015, 289 in 2016 and 415 in 2017.

As legislative action continues to reduce access to opioid pain medication, “we’re going to possibly see a rise in heroin,” said Dawn Oparah of AV Pride. “People who are using who can’t get prescription drugs are moving to heroin,” she said. “So we have to keep watching the heroin use and fentanyl.”