Bartow’s Crisis

Georgia and Bartow County have not been immune to the opioid crisis.  In fact, among Georgia’s 159 counties, Bartow is a leader in overdoses, suicides, and accidental death by overdose




  • #1 in June, #2 in May & January 2019, #3 in February & March 2019, #4 in April  for drug overdose ER (DPH) visits, and #2 overall in 2017.
  • 2010-2015 more than 100 people died from fatal overdoses.
  • In the 5 year period from 2013-2017: (DPH)
    • #1 for accidental overdose deaths ages 25-44, and #2 for all ages
    • #2 in suicides ages 20-44, #3 ages 15-19 and all ages
  • In a recent Bartow County Public Health resident survey:
  • 58% indicated alcohol/drug abuse as our county’s most important health problem, with mental health issues at 38% in second place, often co-occurring with addiction.
  • When asked what they thought the 3 most important “risk behaviors” were, 72% reported drug abuse, 41% alcohol abuse, and 39% overweight.
  • 120 children [of the 150] were removed from their homes for drug-related issues and into DFCS custody in 2018.
  • 100% of our unsheltered homeless population are suffering with drug addiction and/or co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • In a recent June town hall, State Senator Bruce Thompson discussed the unparalleled number of employers who cannot find enough people who can pass a drug screen to fill their workforce.
  • In a June Forum Rosemary Greene, District Attorney for the Cherokee Judicial Circuit Court, stated “Approximately 85% – 90% of all crime in Bartow County is drug-related; whether theft, domestic violence, or sexual offences. It’s a huge problem that covers everything we do.”
  • The State recognizes, statistics verify, and the community knows we have a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Today’s opioid crisis killed over 70,000 Americans in 2017. To put that in perspective, that’s a higher death toll than guns, car crashes, and HIV/AIDS (48,371 in 1995) ever killed in one year in the U.S., and a higher death toll than ALL military casualties in the Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars combined (65,054).
  • Among the 18 wealthiest countries in the world, the United States has had, by far, the highest drug overdose death rate for more than a decade. This has contributed in large part to the life expectancy in the U.S. dropping for the second year in a row to 78.6, the first recorded multi-year drop since 1962 and 1963 when influenza caused a spike in deaths.

  • Other drugs can also be involved. Roughly half of the heroin-related deaths involved alcohol, and 31% of prescription painkiller-linked deaths were also linked to benzodiazepines, a legal anti-anxiety drug. In other words, though it began with pain killers, this isn’t just an opioid crisis; it’s a full-on addiction epidemic, involving alcohol and all sorts of legal and illegal drugs.

  • As alarming as these statistics are, they understate the magnitude of the crisis. Opioid misuse and addiction can lead to many more life-altering problems than death, including family disintegration, homelessness, incarceration, and other life-threatening health condition


The solution

  • Recovery happens in communities where people live.
  • Tragically, the casualties of this ill-conceived war on drugs are families. The Georgia Council on Substance Abuse and their Recovery Community Organizations are equipping communities with resources and strategies to mitigate the suffering.


Of our unsheltered homeless population are suffering from drug addiction and/or co-occurring mental health disorders.


Georgia has the dubious distinction of being one of 22 other states with a statistically significant increase in drug overdose death rates from 2016 to 2017. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


Of the estimated 20+ million Americans with a substance use disorder (SUD) started using as teenagers.


Of people held in local jails are not convicted of any crime. They’ve been arrested, but cannot afford bail. Jail incarceration rates are driven largely by local bail policies. Pretrial detention is responsible for all of the net jail growth in the last 20 years.