DBHDD’s Office of Addictive Diseases is a supporter of Georgia Overdose Prevention, a group co-founded by Robin Elliott, pictured above with son Zack, who died of an overdose. She, along with co-founders Laurie Fugitt, Mona Bennett, Susan Calame, Tori and Jeremy Galloway, Jeremy Sharp, Robin Cardiges, and Dave Laws have all been personally impacted by overdose fatalities, primarily heroin. Some have lost a child to overdose. Others have friends whose children have died.
The first goal of Georgia Overdose Prevention was to get a medical amnesty law passed in Georgia. Enacted in 2014, the law protects people who call 911 seeking medical attention for someone experiencing a drug or alcohol-related overdose.
The law also increases access naloxone, the “antidote” for opioid overdose. When administered in time, naloxone often reverses the effects of opiates (heroin) and opioids (hydrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone). People who take naloxone after overdose on opiates and opioids are less likely to die or suffer long-term brain or tissue damage.
Prior to 2014, a 911 call brought emergency medical technicians who worked to save the victim and police officers who arrested both the victim and the person who called for help. Since the law was enacted, enforcement officers in 24 jurisdictions have begun to carry naloxone, and the demand from law enforcement is growing. Georgia Overdose Prevention estimates that 322 lives have been saved because of this law.
Members of Georgia Overdose Prevention have made it their mission to get the word out about the law and to put naloxone in the hands of anyone who needs it. They are working to get Georgia colleges and universities to change policies that threaten students who overdose on campus with expulsion. They are collaborating with methadone clinics and residential addiction treatment facilities to train counselors and equip them with rescue kits.