The Office of Behavioral Health Prevention invited the public to the free State Opioid Response Kick Off at Atlanta’s Delta Flight Museum. More events like the one in Hapeville will occur around the state of Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities is raising awareness about the department’s latest efforts to combat the opioid crisis in Georgia with a recent first stop and kickoff event in south Fulton County.

The department leads Georgia’s response to the opioid crisis in the areas of prevention, treatment and recovery. DBHDD’s Office of Behavioral Health Prevention aims to combat the opioid crisis throughout the state by focusing on a multifaceted prevention approach using data and evidence-based strategies to address the crisis in an effective and logical manner, according to officials.

One of the latest initiatives includes efforts to prevent and reduce overdose deaths through training in the administration of naloxone for first responders and community members, as well as public education about Georgia’s medical amnesty law. Other initiatives include, a statewide positive social norming media campaign for educating the public on safe disposal of prescription medication, the safe storage of medication through prescription lock boxes, and teaching healthy coping mechanisms amongst select school aged youth in areas of high needs across the state.

In addition to prevention efforts, DBHDD has expanded access to medication-assisted treatment, added a peer warm line to support people who have an opioid use disorder by connecting them with individuals in recovery who have been through similar experiences, and piloted peer recovery coaches in some emergency departments to link people who have overdosed with treatment.

About 230 people attended the State Opioid Response Kickoff at the Delta Flight Museum in Hapeville, selling out the informative and educational event. The department will continue to host at least five opioid prevention events throughout the state over the next year. The goal, stated spokeswoman Angelyn Dionysatos, is to have one event in each of the department’s six regions.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s website, on average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

In 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 6 times higher than ten years prior.

Additional initiatives planned include:

♦ Redesigning the initial statewide media awareness and education campaign;

♦ Naloxone trainings and distribution of sample kits that target high need areas to reach all 159 counties in Georgia;

♦ Addition of at least 3 additional Substance Abuse Prevention Clubhouses for a total of 6 across Georgia. The clubhouses identify and recruit at risk youth and families and offer comprehensive program services for building protective factors and reducing risk factors associated with Opioid and substance abuse and misuse;

♦ Developing and piloting a College Adopt a High School program in high need areas. College students will mentor at risk high school students while working through the SPF process and a substance abuse prevention strategy in their school; and

♦ Providing trainings for police around building effective community substance abuse prevention relationships, conflict de-escalation tactics, and the identification of symptoms of opioid use and mental health crisis.

For more information, visit www.dbhdd.georgia.gov.