Georgia conquering the root of opioid addiction: Attorney General's Office educating the Garden City

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- - Tackling the opioid crisis: The addiction is seen across the country, but Georgia has set up an opioid task force.

Thursday, the Attorney General's Office hosted a conference to connect local agencies that deal with treatment. 

"Our problem is not the drug. Our problem is addiction," U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson said.

As dozens of law enforcement officers, healthcare professionals and addiction treatment facility workers listen to the truth about opioids, Senator Johnny Isakson explained it would be rare for someone sitting there to, in some way, not be personally affected by the drug. Whether it's themselves battling the addiction, a loved one or a friend, studies show opioids steal the lives of at least 4 Georgians everyday. 

But the Attorney General's Office said 'enough' last year. That is when the statewide Opioid Task Force was born: "One: What are we doing to address the crisis? Two: How can we work together to leverage the resources in the state to address the crisis, and three: How do we fill gaps?" Attorney General Chris Carr explained. 

That taskforce has one goal: To educate and bridge communication between agencies to save lives. 
Senator Isakson has a deep passion for the topic. He got a phone call in 2016 that his grandson's life ended because of the drug: "It was the law enforcement officers in Bulloch County who told me that my grandson had been found dead in his apartment at Georgia Southern. Two days before graduating Summa Cum Laude in Mathematics for Georgia Southern.

A life that ended too soon. In 2017, at least 64,000 people in the U.S. died of opioid overdoses. That's more than aids and murder combined. 

Senator Isakson is working to change federal policy to lower that number this year: "We want to incentivize drug companies to develop drugs that are an alternative to opioids for pain."

And he is backing federal grants to fund programs in local communities, especially rural areas. 
Here in Augusta, Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton, explained the city has set up its own opioid taskforce. 

"If we have an overdose, most of the time nothing is done," Chief Clayton told the crowd. "They go to the hospital, the doctor assesses. Then as soon as they are hit with Narcan, they in severe withdrawals."

Treatment facilities like Stepping Stones to Recovery and Hope House have recently joined the local task force to give those patients help after an overdose. 

"It's a crisis that cannot, must not and should not fall on any one group or individual's shoulders. It's too big," Attorney General Carr told NewsChannel 6. 

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office just received funding for 300 deputies to carry Narcan. That's the opioid overdose reversal drug. Chief Deputy Clayton said those officers will be trained and equipped this month. 

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