A recent arrest and the confiscation of over 1,000 pills by the Rome-Floyd Metro Task Force illustrates the local problem with opioids and the underground sales of prescription drugs.
The assistant commander of the task force, Rome Police Sgt. Joel Stroupe, said they’ve been seeing a rise of opioids but recently have also noticed other types of prescription drugs flooding the illegal market.
Stroupe said the task force has seen a rise of people in possession of gabapentin in the past six months to a year. The drug is often prescribed to treat the pain associated with Shingles or to calm nerves.
On the street, people on harder drugs — such as meth or heroin — use gabapentin to ease the pain or after-effects when they can’t find those drugs, Stroupe said.
A recent investigation, beginning in July, took a chunk of pills off the streets Thursday.
Stroupe said the task force launched an investigation into 52-year-old Ricky Lamar McCullough around late July after they obtained evidence he was dealing pills.
According to Floyd County Jail records, the Aragon man was pulled over Thursday morning on an arrest warrant for an August drug sale. During the stop police found a fentanyl patch and a bottle of 71 oxycodone pills.
When they searched McCullough’s house later in the day, police found 16 tramadol tablets, 14 fentanyl patches, 77 valium tablets and 1,040 gabapentin tablets inside.
McCullough is facing multiple-drug related felony charges and he remained in jail without bond Friday.
While McCullough is not directly related to any opioid death, Stroupe said the type of drugs he sold are contributing to an ongoing local problem involving the abuse of prescribed medication.
“Floyd County is currently experiencing an opioid crisis,” Stroupe said.
Stopping overdoses from narcotics
Many first responders — including police, firefighters and EMS — were equipped with Naloxone spray, commonly known by the brand name Narcan, in 2017. The nasal-spray is used for emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose.
In the first year, it was used infrequently but since then they’ve run into more cases. The spray only counters the effects of an overdose from narcotics, not other drugs.
Since the spray was issued, Floyd County Police officers have used 19 doses of the spray — three were this year, according to FCPD Sgt. Chris Fincher.
In the first year of use, Rome police officers rarely administered the spray. But in this year alone, Rome police have administered 24 doses of the spray, RPD Assistant Chief Debbie Burnett said.
Floyd Medical Center EMS have already administered 140 doses of the spray in 2019, according to FMC spokesperson Dan Bevels. Redmond Regional Medical Center EMS have administered 31 doses of the spray in 2019, said Andrea Pitts, marketing and communications director at hospital.