Opioid abuse in Georgia and elsewhere has claimed thousands of lives. The new U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia has promised a tough approach to the problem.
A report in the Newnan Times-Herald noted that while the illegal use of prescription painkillers is falling, synthetic fentanyl and heroin have grown in popularity among drug users.
BJay Pak, who took over as U.S. attorney in November, highlighted fighting the opioid epidemic as one of his top priorities. Pak said the opioid problem is more serious than ever before.
The Times-Herald report noted in 2015, 12.5 million Americans admitted they misused pain relievers and 914,000 reported use of heroin.
In the same year, 88 percent of drug overdose deaths in Georgia were due to opioids.
Prosecutors are looking for unscrupulous doctors and so-called “pill mills” that generate prescriptions for non-medical uses.
Pak said a powerful method prosecutors are using against prescription abuse is data mining and looking for any anomalies. Pak has years of experience as an attorney who formerly served as a state legislator from Gwinnett County.
Fewer pill mills are being found but they are still being busted by law enforcement in Georgia.
Pak said the word is now getting out to medical providers about the dangers of opioid medications, meaning fewer medical providers are fueling drug abuse.
However, drug dealers are taking advantage of people who are addicted to opioids. The powerful synthetic drug fentanyl is being seen more and more. Pak said:
“We’re seeing marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine laced with fentanyl.”
One problem for prosecutors trying to find out the extent of the opioid crisis is the way deaths are classified.
Often when a victim overdoses and dies, the death is considered accidental. However, some Georgia jurisdictions like Fulton and DeKalb counties are now taking note of such deaths, according to Pak.
Recent data from the Georgia Department of Public Health indicates deaths related to drug overdoses surpassed deaths due to motor vehicle crashes in 2014.
The high profile of the opioid crisis means medical providers who over prescribe these dangerous drugs could be in trouble. If you have been charged with drug offenses, you should contact the Law Office of Michael West today.