Georgia Overdose Prevention: 322 Lives Saved to Date

Georgia Overdose Prevention: 322 Lives Saved to Date

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.

Georgia Overdose Prevention members addressing the crowd at Addiction Recovery Awareness Day Susan Calame (mom), Jeremy Sharp (student W GA College), Dave Laws (Dad), Robin Cardiges (Mom), Laurie Fugitt (Nurse and friend of many parents who have lost children).

Georgia Overdose Prevention members left to right: Susan Calame (mom), Jeremy Sharp (student at the University of West Georgia), Dave Laws (Dad), Robin Cardiges (Mom), Laurie Fugitt (nurse and friend of many parents who have lost children to 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: Front Row (L-R) Justin Leef (law student and friend of Zack Elliott), Diane Brannen (Mom), Rose Brannen (sister), Rachel Moore (mom), Members of Georgia Overdose Prevention: Front Row (L-R) Justin Leef (law student and friend of Zack Elliott), Diane Brannen (Mom), Rose Brannen (sister), Rachel Moore (mom), Robin Elliott (mom). 2nd Row: Supporter, Marshall Rancifer (activist), Robert Childs (Georgia mentor, executive director of North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition), Laurie Fugitt (nurse), Andy Gish (nurse) with banner depicting children lost to overdose.

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.