Drug overdoses becoming a weekly crisis in Dougherty Co.

Every week, Dougherty County EMS is responding to a drug overdose call.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 6:00 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Dougherty County is seeing a drug overdose crisis.

The Dougherty County EMS has been responding to overdose cases every week and reported there have been 20 cases already in the month of May.

“It’s getting to the point to where some days we have two to three calls a day,” said Sam Allen, Dougherty County EMS director.

Allen said expects the number of cases to double throughout the summer. Fentanyl and opioid overdoses have become a bigger threat with the Georgia Department of Public Health reporting over 2,000 deaths. The increase is a result of more street drugs becoming laced with life-threatening narcotics.

Allen said it only takes 2 milligrams of fentanyl to kill a person.

“With fentanyl, we are seeing a different type of fentanyl. We’ve actually seen the rainbow fentanyl pills here. It’s everywhere. People are using it. You don’t realize what they’re doing. Especially the ones with the vape because it’s blended in and you can’t tell the difference of the smell,” he said.

Last year, there were over 200 cases where Dougherty County EMS had to dispense Narcan.
Last year, there were over 200 cases where Dougherty County EMS had to dispense Narcan.(WALB)

Last year, Dougherty County EMS had a total of 249 cases that required Narcan dispensation. Even with the overdose treatment becoming readily accessible to the community, Allan said it comes with misconceptions.

“It’s a gamble, every time somebody does this. They’re taking their life in their hands and they may or may not. Narcan, everybody thinks it’s the wonder drug. It does help but it’s not a guarantee,” Allen said.

He’s witnessed that non-guarantee through this year’s four confirmed drug overdose deaths. There are also 15 more drug overdose fatality cases pending. All of which he says could have been avoided with the right help.

“If we keep turning our back and looking the other way, the stronger this stuff is coming in we’re going to see more fatalities,” Allen said.

That’s where community resources come in like the Drug Enforcement Administration’s traveling exhibit titled Drugs: Cost and Consequences. The goal of the exhibit is to showcase the aftermath of drug use like this to prevent more tragedies from happening.

The DEA's traveling exhibit is tackling the drug crisis nationally and locally.
The DEA's traveling exhibit is tackling the drug crisis nationally and locally.(WALB)

“Everything that you see in here is actual pieces from drug raids or things that have happened,” said Angie Jones, education manager of DEA Traveling Exhibit.

The exhibit is divided up into 13 sections and will show you the signs of drug abuse and the correct way to start the road to recovery. There are also local ties to Dougherty County within the exhibit. Jones said that part helps people realize that a drug crisis is spreading throughout the community.

“And because we know it’s here and this is what it’s doing, then rather than be the voice to just beat down on people, let’s be the voice to join in to try to give them some resources, some networking, some people that they can go to,” Jones said.

Ultimately, Jones said the solution to the war against drug addiction starts with education and awareness. The DEA traveling exhibit located at the Thronateeska Heritage Center will be in Albany until September. Admission is free and the exhibit is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“It is a problem in our community and it’s a growing challenge for all of us. It is something we have to talk about and have to remain educated about,” she said.

correction: The reference of two grams has been corrected to two milligrams.