OPIOID CRISIS: GBI seeing progress in the fight against opioids
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation plays a pivotal role in fighting the opioid crisis in Georgia. With their testing capabilities and their investigators they are able to track opioid trends in the state of Georgia, and find the source of the drugs.
"We see opioids on a daily basis and it's a huge problem," said Mitchell Posey.
Posey is an inspector for the GBI.
"We're putting a lot of focus on overdose deaths and then working them backwards to the actual drug dealer," said Posey.
He said an overdose is an indicator that there's a problem area, so that's when they start working backwards.
"We can't have that same dealer then turn into 5 bodies, 10 bodies because that's something that you just can't ignore," said Posey.
Deneen Kilcrease is the Chemistry Section Manager for the GBI.
"One of the most important things I do as chemistry section manager is to monitor the drug trends in the state," said Kilcrease.
The task is monumental.
"So we test about 40,000 drug cases annually," said Kilcrease. "Our top drug is Methamphetamine, followed by cocaine, and in the the third position are the opioids collectively."
She said it's not more prevelant in one county to the next, it's a statewide problem.
"I then have a master list of all of those results that I can tabulate and I can track when we do have an outbreak of something in our state," said Kilcrease.
When those cases come through their lab sometimes the drugs are so dangerous, even opening the bag they're contained in has risk. Kilcrease showed an example of one particularly dangerous case that came into the lab.
"So the first case that we're looking at here is particularly deadly, it contains carfentanyl, it contains heroine, it contains morphine, among other things," she said.
Posey said the danger is part of the appeal for some users.
"If User A overdoses and User B sees that, User B is going to say to themselves I have a higher tolerance level, what I've been using isn't giving me the desired effects so I'm going to go to User A's drug dealer because I'm not going to overdose, I'm going to be more careful," said Posey.
He said it's not just habitual users that are in danger, but someone wanting to experiment is just as much at risk.
"That one experiment they don't have the opportunity the next day to wake up and say OK that was a bad idea, I'm never going to do that again because they die from it," said Posey.
Posey said by working backwards they're seeing progress in the opioid crisis. Preliminary numbers show that overdose deaths in Georgia dropped by 12% from 2017 to 2018 falling from 996 to 873.
"Because it's a proactive strategy and we haven't seen the five, 10 deaths," said Posey.
He said using this strategy, dealers are put on notice.
"They're at least put on notice that we're there and we know about them and at a minimum at least it deters them," said Posey.