11 overdoses in Tift County, judges say there's a problem - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

11 overdoses in Tift County, judges say there's a problem

Tifton has seen 11 overdoses in the last month (Source: WALB) Tifton has seen 11 overdoses in the last month (Source: WALB)
Judges want to focus on those with and without criminal records (Source: WALB) Judges want to focus on those with and without criminal records (Source: WALB)
"We want to help these people," said Judge Benson (Source: WALB) "We want to help these people," said Judge Benson (Source: WALB)
TIFTON, GA (WALB) -

Eleven overdoses in a 4 week period, Tifton judges and counselors are now creating ways to get help and raise awareness on the rising number of addiction problems they see. 

They are tired of seeing crimes and deaths that could have been prevented. 

They are now warning others of what is becoming an epidemic for the county and showing others it could be people you don't always expect. 

"I guess we've been somewhat naive but if I'm naive than so is the rest of the world, at least the rest of Tift County," said Judge Herbert Benson. 

According to Tift County judges, the majority of crime cases they handle are committed by people who have drug or alcohol addiction problems.

To help lower these numbers, the Tift County Drug and DUI Court Program began an operation in September of 2016.

It's a 12 month intensive outpatient treatment program for repeat criminal offenders. 

However, after eleven overdoses at Tift Regional with victims who had no criminal record, Judge Benson is worried about others slipping through the cracks.

"We're looking at the people who sit next to you in church. They're your teachers, doctors, lawyers, everybody that you see on the street and say hello to," said Judge Benson. 

He is pushing for a new program that will offer counseling, no matter the type of addiction...no matter the age and no matter the criminal record. 

"It would be a place for those to come to for counseling, to find counseling groups, even for family members who have family with addiction problems," said Judge Benson. 

They may not be able to treat every person within the county who is suffering but they may be able to change the future and prevent these people before it's too late.

"We're trying to take some of the stigma away from having an addiction problem..because of this, people won't address the issue and then it's too late," said Judge Benson. 

Copyright 2017 WALB. All rights reserved.

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