Fentanyl pills

Georgia Public Health warns that counterfeit pills containing fentanyl have been linked to opioid overdoses.

The number of opioid-related deaths in Floyd County rose in 2020 when compared with 2019 totals, Georgia Department of Public Health reports show.

In both years Floyd County’s opioid-related death rate was just above state average when factoring in the county’s population.

In order to provide a baseline for counties and areas with varying populations, the state calculates the rate per 100,000 people. Statewide, the average is 12.2 deaths per 100,000 people.

With a population near enough to that 100,000-mark, Floyd reported 15 opioid-related deaths in 2020 compared to 11 in 2019. That figure is over the state average, but it’s under the 10-county Northwest Health District rate of 16.8 deaths per 100,000 people.

For comparison, in 2020 there were seven stimulant related deaths in Floyd County. Of those, four were a combination of opioid and a stimulant. The number of stimulant related overdose deaths has remained fairly flat over the past three years.

Overdose deaths rise district-wide

In 2019 the health district reported 80 opioid related deaths. That number rose to 116 in 2020 — a 45% increase.

That opioid death rate has been buoyed primarily by fentanyl-involved overdoses, with the number of deaths specifically linked to the drug doubling in the past three years.

However, fentanyl accounts for a relatively low number of emergency department visits, according to the DPH data.

The Northwest Health District is comprised of Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Paulding, Polk and Walker counties.

A majority of counties in the health district were above the state average of opioid-related deaths, with the exception of Gordon and Murray counties.

Gordon County, with a population of just over 55,000, reported three opioid related deaths in 2020 and Murray County, with a population of just over 40,000, reported two.

While the trend of opioid related deaths went up across the Northwest Health District, the rise wasn’t as severe as in several metro-Atlanta counties where the number of deaths doubled or tripled.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the number of fentanyl-involved deaths doubled from 2019 to 2020 in Georgia. The state’s public health agency records show that the drug killed 803 Georgians in 2020, compared with 392 in 2019.

Looking at the data for 2019 alone, there were 17 drug overdose-related deaths in Floyd County and 11 of those were opioid-related. Of those, six deaths were linked to fentanyl and three to heroin.

In four years, public health records show the number of opioid related deaths in Floyd County tripled from five in 2017 to 15 in 2020.

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