Robert Hayden, DC, PhD, FICC
As of the latest information I can find, four people are dead here in Georgia over the last 48 hours, and dozens more are at risk with overdoses across the state. The cases have cropped up in Macon, Warner Robins, Centerville, Perry, and Augusta. By the time this gets to press, it could easily be in Griffin.
The overdoses are attributed to a pill that is being sold on the streets as “Percocet.” Actual Percocet is a blend of acetaminophen with oxycodone, but it is likely from the descriptions that this may not be actual Percocet, but a street version that is far more deadly.
Ms. Nancy Nydam of the Georgia Department of Public Health said that the drug being sold as Percocet is a “dangerous, potentially lethal substance contained in street drugs.” Literally dozens of overdoses have happened in the last few days. This particularly potent street drug requires massive amounts of an antidote used to reverse opioid poisoning, but it is quite possible or probable that the death count will go higher in the next few days if anyone uses these drugs while alone.
Some of these overdose patients have been triaged at Navicent Health Medical Center where I once worked as a clinical nurse specialist. The chief medical officer there says they have never seen this many overdoses all at once. Each time a history is obtained from one of the patients, the story is consistent: it is a yellow pill that was sold to them on the streets as Percocet.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is investigating in the towns where the drugs were sold to find the pushers. Just last month, the GBI released a public safety alert about counterfeit pills that were actually filled with Fentanyl. Fentanyl is estimated at 50 to 100 times as potent as morphine.
If you know someone who is buying drugs on the streets (someone who reads this will in fact know a candidate), warn them. This drug is not like a hit of marijuana. It will kill you, and it will do so quickly. You know, death is permanent.
The usual signs of opiate overdose will be present: nausea, vomiting, profuse sweating, confusion/stupor, dizziness, swelling of the hands and feet, and difficulty breathing. Ultimately there will be loss of consciousness and respiratory arrest. If you come across someone who looks like this, stay with them. Call 911. If you are prepared to do so, begin CPR if it appears they have lost vital signs.
Be careful about mouth-to-mouth breathing if there is drug in the oral cavity. You could be next.
I think it would be a good idea for us all to have a frank discussion about this issue. We need to talk about it in school, in churches, at the supper table among families, at the water cooler, or anywhere else that people might gather.
At my clinic, we do a lot of drug testing. Not a day goes by that someone does not try to cheat on a drug test, giving us room temperature samples, or worse, samples that are heated up to 108°. The former means that someone has brought a sample from a friend, attempting to commit fraud so they can continue their drug addiction habit and bring it to your businesses. The latter means the same, but they have stopped at a convenience store to heat that urine sample in the same microwave that you might have used for your pizza.
The drug problem is in Griffin. It has spread like a bad cold, or like fake news. I doubt that there is anyone who will read this who does not know someone with a drug problem.
Certainly, a focus should be on education and prevention, but I would suggest to you as a Griffinite that perhaps the primary focus should be a neighborhood watch program to find, identify, and arrest anyone who is selling drugs of any kind. Griffin is our town. Let’s clean it up. Let’s run the thugs into jail or to a community where they will be more comfortable, like Chicago.
The newspapers, especially this one, are telling us that Sheriff Dix is committed to cleaning the drugs out of Griffin. This is not a job for just the Sheriff. We, the citizens, must be on the lookout for anyone selling pills to our kids or even to our parents.
What do you think?