Opioid Crisis

Opioids are substances that act on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects. Medically they are primarily used for pain relief, including anesthesia. However, they are extremely dangerous when used incorrectly. Many Georgians have lost their lives caused by opioid overdose. In Georgia, within the last year, hospital emergency rooms have been inundated patients who have overdosed.

This crisis is constantly a reoccurring subject in the news. GHA is working with hospitals and state and federal agencies to develop strategies on saving lives. 

Article: Athens 'at the beginning of this fight'

Legislators, medical professionals, academics and survivors of substance abuse recently gathered at The Classic Center for the 2018 Athens Opioid Summit.

The event allowed individuals from all sides of the fight against the opioid epidemic to gather and discuss what is working, what their barriers are and how they can continue moving forward to beat addiction.

“We brought this event to Athens because, even though the opioid epidemic isn’t here yet, there is evidence that it’s coming,” said Catherine Clayton Mills, program manager at Advantage Behavioral Health’s PROUD peer mentoring program. “If we can figure out how to work as a community, if we can figure out how to collaborate, it doesn’t matter what drug it is, we can beat it.”


Click here to read complete Athens Banner-Herald article.

Sen. Isakson Supports Legislation

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., on April 18 cosponsored legislation to help fight the opioid crisis and improve the federal government’s response to this epidemic that is devastating communities across Georgia and the nation.

The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, S.2680, would facilitate greater communication and improve data sharing across government agencies involved in responding to the opioid epidemic.

“My own family has been touched by the devastating consequences of opioid addiction,”said Isakson, referring to the 2016 death of a grandson. “As a country, we need to treat addiction as the devastating disease that it is, and we need to help people struggling with addiction get the treatment they need. I appreciate the partnerships by Congress, the administration, healthcare agencies, states and so many other groups that are coming together to tackle this challenge.”

The Opioid Crisis Response Act was developed based on months of expert testimony in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Isakson, a member of the committee, and his colleagues worked to find ways to improve the federal response to the opioid crisis and help prevent more Americans from succumbing to the epidemic.

Click here for the official news release from Sen. Isakson's office.

First Meeting of Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

On Friday, April 6, GHA participated in the first meeting of the Department of Public Health’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Workgroup. The Department has established this and four other workgroups to help craft Georgia’s Opioid Strategic Plan. The PDMP Workgroup with hold a day-long work session on April 18, with representatives of Brandeis University, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and the Centers for Disease Control to discuss best practices from other states.

House Concludes Latest Hearing on Opioid Legislation

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on April 12 concluded a two-day hearing on more than 30 bills to address the opioid crisis through Medicare and Medicaid coverage and payment policies, which follows a similar hearing last month on 25 other bills. Witnesses at the latest hearing included Michael Botticelli, executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center, and John Kravitz, chief information officer for Danville, PA-based Geisinger Health System. Botticelli, a former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, emphasized the "critical role" that Medicaid plays in addressing the opioid epidemic. Kravitz described how the integrated health system has used electronic prescribing and information technology strategies to reduce opioid prescriptions, drug diversion and the cost of care. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee yesterday held a hearing on a discussion draft of bipartisan legislation to address the opioid crisis, which the committee will mark up on April 24. (Article written by the American Hospital Association)

AHA Voices Strong Support for Alternatives to Opioids

The AHA on April 12 urged the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to incorporate into its bipartisan legislation to address the opioid crisis the Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Department Act (S. 2516). Introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Cory Gardner (R-CO), S. 2516 would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a demonstration program to test alternative pain management protocols to limit opioid use in the ED, informed by successful programs in states like New Jersey and Colorado. "The success of these programs alone shows great promise for S. 2516 to not only help in combating the opioid crisis, but also in studying alternatives to opioids that offer meaningful pain relief to patients," said AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels in a letter to committee leaders. Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and David McKinley (R-WV) have introduced a companion bill (H.R. 5197) in the House. (Article written by the American Hospital Association.)