“Additionally, a greater awareness of the risks of opioid addiction, better patient education and access to treatment and recovery are certainly areas we (agencies and partners collectively) hope are finding their mark among users,” Health Department spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said in an email.
“Perhaps one of the most significant impacts may be government agencies, non-government agencies, hospitals, treatment facilities, law enforcement, academia, business — all realizing they have a stake in ending the opioid epidemic in Georgia and working together toward that goal.”
Related: The fentanyl epidemic robs a Georgia family of a daughter and a mother
The Trump administration has declared the overdose crisis a public health emergency. Nationwide, drug overdoses killed about 72,000 Americans in 2017, a record number driven by increasing opioid-related deaths.
The epidemic has gotten so bad that Americans are now more likely to die from opioid overdoses than car wrecks. The opioid crisis drew grim headlines this week when police announced that a woman had been charged with murder in her 1-year-old son's overdose death in the Bronx. Two days before Christmas, the 1-year-old boy ingested a mixture of heroin and fentanyl.
More: Marietta announces new direction on opioids as overdose deaths dip
Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties are among dozens of Georgia cities and counties that have filed lawsuits against the opioid industry, seeking to recoup taxpayer expenses for costs tied to the epidemic.
In-Depth: Atlanta-area governments sue opioid industry amid deadly epidemic
For example, Fulton, according to its legal complaint, has been forced to spend millions of dollars each year on health care expenses, law enforcement and other costs.
The Georgia Public Health Department released preliminary figures showing a decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths in four Atlanta-area counties.