Augusta opiate task force, made up of several entities, aiming to save lives

Crime News

“It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction,” President Trump declared.” It’s never been this way. We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it.”

From the highest office in the land to the efforts right here at home, we are covering the figh to end the addiction to painkillers. 

The opiate epidemic: A phrase many people are tired of hearing, and instead want to see action. That is why Augusta’s opioid task force is working in full throttle. Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton says the Sheriff’s Office is more concerned with opiates and their deadly effects, than marijuana on the streets. 

“If we save one life, that is worth it,” Chief Deputy Clayton told NewsChannel 6. 

Georgia launched its state-wide opioid task force last fall. Headed up by Attorney General Chris Carr, he said the Peach State needs a wake-up call… starting with education: “It is a crisis that cannot, should not and must not fall on any one group or individual’s shoulders. It’s just too big.”

That’s where Augusta’s new opioid task force comes in. Last year, Chief Deputy Clayton and Coroner Mark Bowen decided over lunch it was time to help end the constant overdoses in the CSRA. Made up of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Coroners Office, Augusta Fire, Health Department and various treatment facilities, the task force launched 6 months ago.\

“Usually when you see a young person that has passed away that has mysterious conditions, usually a lot of them are overdoses,” Coroner Mark Bowen said. 

Bowen tracks the number and causes of overdoses. He explained from January 2017 to June of this year, he has pronounced 85 people dead due to overdoses, mostly opiate related. He is waiting on 37 toxicology results to come back from the GBI lab… most, he believes, will be overdoses. 

“We have had about 21 cases of Fentanyl since 2017… that’s a lot,” Bowen expressed. 

That is a drug that is 10,000 times more potent than Morphine. 

Ken Wilson works to treat the addiction. When a person overdoses and is admitted to the ER, the health department steps in to recommend rehab: “It’s been proven that if you overdose once and don’t go get help, you’ll overdose again and again and again, and you won’t come back,” Wilson, Director of Stepping Stones to Recovery, said. 

“Not only does it affect you, the person who took the drug, but you have got to think about your family,” Bowen expressed. 

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office now has Narcan, the opiate reversal drug. Deputies start training next week and should be equipped to use it within the next month. 

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