Public Health leaders make big push for opioid reversal medication during crisis

Cobb County has had a higher rate of opioid overdose deaths than the state since about 2016, officials said
Metro Atlanta leaders need your help saving lives. Cobb County health officials said more than 120 people died from opioids in 2021, and 97 of those were from F
Published: Feb. 11, 2023 at 10:56 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) -Metro Atlanta leaders need your help saving lives. Cobb County health officials said more than 120 people died from opioids in 2021, and 97 of those were from Fentanyl.

“The crisis is happening in the community. Absolutely we’re having an opioid crisis in our community,” Lori Jouty, Opioid Prevention, and Response Coordinator for Cobb & Douglas Public Health. “The people who are most affected by this crisis are in their 30s. The 30 to 40 age range. However, what we’re seeing in the state of Georgia, is an over 700 percent increase in kids dying of opioid overdoses. So, we just want to get ahead of that in Cobb County,” Jouty said.

Now, they are saying an overdose reversal drug could make a tremendous difference. However, they need your help bringing it to the masses.

Stacey O’Shields said her 21-year-old daughter, Clover, died in 2021 after an accidental fentanyl overdose.

“Our daughter Clover passed away unexpectedly in September 2021 of an accidental fentanyl overdose. Prior to that, her fiancé died in our house, August 25th-- of the same thing,” O’Shields said.

Now, advocates and public health professionals are pushing an overdose reversal medication hard.

“One of our biggest pushes right now, one thing that we really want to do more than anything is to get Naloxone out to the community. Naloxone is the overdose reversal medication, and we’re hoping that we can get funding, so we can get that out to as many people as possible,” Jouty said.

“It’s naloxone. Naloxone can save lives. So, what we’ve done is, we’ve created an initiative where we are --educating the community on how to use Naloxone. How it can save a life. How you can get Naloxone in your home. There’s an open prescription in Georgia where you can receive Naloxone. You can go to any pharmacy in Georgia and ask them for it and you’ll be able to get it,” said LaTreece Roby, with Cobb Community Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse. “Even though we have an open prescription here in Georgia, it still cost you at least 45 bucks to get a box of them. A box contains two doses, and as Stacey said, it’s taking like four or five doses to bring people back,” she said.

“There’s a lot of federal funding for prevention, a lot of federal funding for recovery. A lot of federal funding for education, they don’t allow you to purchase the Naloxone kits, so we have to find other sources to be able to find the funds to be able to buy the kits,” Roby said.

O’Shields agrees that more Naloxone is needed in the community.

“I keep this in my purse. This has been distributed to churches, schools, and community centers. This can save lives,” O’Shields said.

“Right now, you can buy Naloxone without a prescription. We have a standing order for Naloxone, so if you’re ever given an opioid by your doctor, you should have Naloxone. I just feel like any parent should just have a Naloxone with them at any time because you never know when something, you’re not quite sure of, might contact Fentanyl in it,” Jouty said. “It’s good just to have Naloxone on you at all times,” she said.

Roby said O’Shields donated $5,000 to the Cobb Community Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse for the kits. Now O’Shields is hoping others will do the same.

“Every breath counts and every life counts,” O’Shields said. “We need to work hard to save them, and we need a build on awareness,” O’Shields said. “We need to be loud, and we need money, and we need to make sure that this isn’t going to be your family and your daughter,” she said.

“If this story stirs you and you want to say, how can I help, what can I do, you can donate. You can increase awareness,” she said.

To learn more about how you can help, visit Cobb & Douglas Public Health’s website. Or contact the Cobb Community Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse.