Three are dead in Athens after drug overdoses, however police tell us two of the deaths resulted from using pain patches inappropriately.

 The Athens police department tells Channel 3 they've had a prescription drug abuse problem for years, saying it accounts for at least 60 percent of the drug problem.  

They call Friday's incident a case of recklessness, when two people chewed pain patches to get high.          

Police were called to a residence where a man, named Harold Coleman, was found lying unresponsive in his driveway.

"During that process we find one of those Fentanyl patches in his mouth," said Athens Detective Fred Schultz.

Fentanyl patches are usually prescribed to patients with chronic pain.  Detective Schultz says Coleman had a prescription.

"The one gentleman had the prescription and we're assuming he gave them to someone else," said Schultz.

That someone else was inside the residence, named Donald Sturdivant.

"[He] was unresponsive, but still showed signs of life," said Schultz.

Sturdivant was taken to the hospital where he later died from an overdose of the patches.

"It's a transdermal patch which you place on your body and it gives you your dosage in a time release manner," said Schultz.

However he says that Coleman and Sturdivant were chewing the patches.

"If you break it or damage it or chew it, you're getting the whole dosage at one time," said Schultz.

It can give the individual a high that can easily lead to an overdose.

"On a dose by dose basis it's probably 50 to 100 percent stronger than morphine," said Schultz.

It can cause major issues within your body.


"One of the side effects it can restrict your breathing, so I'm sure if you're getting some high dosages of it, it could cause you some concern with your breathing," said Schultz.

In some cases, like this one, it can also result in death.

There were other people in the home; no one else was believed to be using the patches. However, 32-year-old Amanda Haney was arrested for having medication without a prescription.

The police department says they are ruling these as accidental overdoses.