Leaders work to end deadly opioid epidemic in SWGA

Leaders work to end deadly opioid epidemic in SWGA
The opioids epidemic is taking a toll on Southwest GA. (Source: WALB)
Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler, said he wants to sound the alarm on this issue. (Source: WALB)
Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler, said he wants to sound the alarm on this issue. (Source: WALB)
Fentanyl is killing people just by inhaling. (Source: WALB)
Fentanyl is killing people just by inhaling. (Source: WALB)
Opioid drugs are killing more people than guns according to Albany leaders. (Source: WALB)
Opioid drugs are killing more people than guns according to Albany leaders. (Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - With overdose deaths at an all-time high across the nation, the opioid epidemic is taking its toll on South Georgia.

Dougherty County's coroner said in 2017, he handled 17 deaths related to overdoses.

Albany city leaders said opioids like heroin are killing more people than guns, and the numbers are still on the rise.

"I would hate to see someone's child [death] that could've been prevented. A death could've been prevented," said Michael Fowler, Dougherty County Coroner.

Fowler said he wants to bring the opioid epidemic to the forefront.

"It's happening here in Albany, so this drug is here and it's not going anywhere but we got to do something and if not, we going to all be affected by it," said  Fowler.

He joined other leaders in East Albany for a town hall meeting to help prevent overdose deaths. After hearing the staggering numbers some Albany citizens are scared.

"It makes me afraid of the high numbers of drug overdoses here in Albany," said Jacquelyn Frazier-Tensley, community resident.

Albany Dougherty Drug Unit Lieutenant Graham Stacy said the biggest drug problems agents find in Albany are heroin and methamphetamine.

"It's progressed to not seeing as much cocaine anymore, to seeing more methamphetamine and heroins and opioids," said Stacy.

Fowler said Dougherty County is even seeing a new drug called the "Grey Death," along with Fentanyl which could kill anyone who's around or inhales it.

Commissioner Jon Howard hosted the meeting. He said he is simply concerned for kids.

"I got more years behind me than ahead of me. But I'm concerned about the young generation," said Howard.

"They see stuff laying around and they will try it. You know and they will, you know experiment. You know it's so easy to get in the school," said Frazier-Tensley.

Now the Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is already taking action.

"The Governor signed a bill which has three major pieces of legislation. He laid out programs for us to fight this epidemic across the state of Georgia," said Darrel Bush Ealum, Georgia House of Representatives.

Copyright 2018 WALB. All rights reserved.