Category: The Opioid Crisis

Stigma biggest challenge to opioid epidemic, CDC director says at Buckhead event

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at a Buckhead event that the stigma against addiction is one of the biggest threats to combating the opioid epidemic, where he also discussed the flu and other public health threats. “Even the word ‘addict’ is stigmatizing,” Robert Redfield, the director of Atlanta-based global health organization, said at the Oct. 11 Buckhead Business Association breakfast meeting. Opioids are a class of addictive, often easily lethal drugs that include opium and morphine as well as substances with similar effects. National controversy has raged over opioids available as prescription pills,...

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Buckhead man charged with making pills involved in lethal OD

A Buckhead man is facing federal charges of providing counterfeit painkiller pills containing a stronger, deadly drug that caused two overdoses, one of them fatal. Edward Culton, 25, was arraigned Sept. 10 on charges of possession and distribution of the opioid drug fentanyl. He allegedly supplied the drug to Hubert Nathans, 29, of Roswell, who last month pleaded guilty on conspiracy to distribute charges in the OD cases, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Culton is accused of creating hundreds of fake pills of Roxicodone, a prescription opioid painkiller, that actually contained the stronger opioid fentanyl. Prosecutors accuse Culton...

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For local police, free overdose antidotes came with a price: looming expiration dates

The Brookhaven and Dunwoody police departments are among the dozens of public agencies to have received free doses of naloxone, a lifesaving opioid-overdose antidote, from a Virginia-based pharmaceutical company. But a recent investigation into the company’s charity program found the goodwill was limited by the fact that some of those doses were within months of expiring. Four years ago, when Kaleo started giving away more than 330,000 naloxone auto-injectors, the Dunwoody and Brookhaven police departments were among the first law enforcement agencies to apply for the free antidote. They each received hundreds of doses of the lifesaving drug. They...

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Fulton County names ‘opioid coordinator’ to combat drug epidemic

Fulton County has named a new “opioid coordinator” to help combat the narcotic drug epidemic. Lynnette Allen is taking the new $55,300-a-year position. “The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc on our society and within our county,” said Board of Commissioners’ Vice Chairman Bob Ellis, who sponsored legislation in 2017 establishing the county’s Opioid Abuse and Misuse Prevention Plan, in a press release. “Establishing this critical role is another bold step we are taking to proactively combat this menace.” The press release says that Allen will “lead Fulton County’s efforts to address the opioid crisis and will serve as the...

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Opioid-dealing mother sentenced to 3 years in federal prison

The suburban mother turned drug-dealer whose story was featured in a recent Reporter Newspapers series about the opioid epidemic was sentenced May 24 to three years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Cathine Lavina Sellers, 39, of Roswell was convicted in January of possession with intent to distribute the opioid fentanyl and two synthetic opioids, furanyl-fentanyl and U-47700. From her townhome, Sellers was dealing counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained those other opioids. Fentanyl, authorities say, is a narcotic so potent it can kill someone exposed to a dose the size of a few grains of sand,...

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Opioid epidemic summit explores solutions

U.S. Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.) convened an Opioid Summit at Dunwoody City Hall on May 1. Panelists included federal law enforcement, a CDC expert and a woman who started a drug rehabilitation facility called The Zone in Cobb County following her son’s death from an overdose. “The purpose of this is for all of us in the Sixth District and metro Atlanta to be united and understanding what is happening in our communities and our state and the impact it is having on our families,” Handel said. “What strikes me is that no one is immune. There is no...

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Opioid ODs are deadlier than mass shootings, but some high schools don’t stock the antidote

In the spring of 2014, a student fell out of his chair in a 10th-grade classroom at Buckhead’s North Atlanta High School. A teacher quickly noticed he was unconscious and hardly breathing. After someone called 911, a paramedic arrived and, suspecting an overdose, administered an opioid antidote in hopes of saving the kid’s life. The antidote, known as naloxone, worked. In reviving the student, Atlanta Public Schools staffers suddenly found themselves on the front line of the opioid crisis. Nurses realized they could either shake it off as an isolated incident — or prepare for future overdoses to come....

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Dunwoody Police find success treating opioid overdoses with naloxone

Officers with the Dunwoody Police Department began carrying a drug known as naloxone in 2015 after seeing an uptick of opioid overdoses in the city. The drug has been used 13 times over the past three years to treat overdose victims, saving 12 people’s lives. Sgt. Robert Parsons of the DPD shared that information during the inaugural episode of Reporter Newspaper’s new podcast, “Reporter Extra,” as part of our exclusive series, “Coping with a Crisis: Opioid addiction in the suburbs,” and how it is affecting the communities we serve. Managing Editor John Ruch sat down recently with Sgt. Parsons...

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How a suburban mother started peddling fentanyl and became the target of federal prosecutors

He knocked at the door with $1,400 in his pocket. Cathine Sellers welcomed her ex into the quiet of her red brick townhouse on Roswell’s Weatherburne Drive. He’d been there for drugs before. Now he was back to buy some more. The 38-year-old mother with hazel eyes offered up a selection of drugs, including counterfeit oxycodone pills full of the synthetic opioid known as fentanyl. “Customers have returned the pills because they’re too strong,” Sellers told the man, according to federal court filings. “Try taking a quarter instead.” He bought about 100. Sellers later learned her ex was working...

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After eight O.D.s and a prison scare, a Dunwoody resident helps others on the road to getting clean

Chris Zollman’s road to recovery started with a swift act of mercy, continued through a treatment program in Sandy Springs, and ended with him quitting drugs. Now the Dunwoody resident devotes his life to helping others walk down the same path — a path that for many is often muddied by shady operators, controversial treatments, and pricey therapies. Six years ago, Zollman was consuming $100 worth of opioids a day and sold even more to support his habit. He’d survived eight overdoses — the last time, paramedics found him passed out behind the wheel of his car near Bobby...

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Life after death: Families turn obituaries into protests against the stigma of addiction

On a Sunday afternoon last April, the moment Larry Lord had dreaded for roughly two decades finally happened. His wife, Peggy, found their 35-year-old son Ashby no longer breathing in the basement of their ranch home on Sandy Springs’ Mount Paran Road. She tried performing CPR and called 911. But nothing the paramedics did could revive Ashby after a heroin overdose. Larry was devastated. Like many family members after a death, he faced the task of writing an obituary so that newspapers and the funeral home could inform their loved ones. Larry, an architect, considered himself a problem-solver. Usually,...

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Commentary: A doctor’s overview of the opioid crisis

Editor’s Note: Reporter Newspapers has launched the special four-part series “Coping with a Crisis: Opioid addiction in the suburbs,” about local responses to an epidemic that is killing people nationwide and right here in our communities. Opioids are a class of addictive, often easily lethal drugs that include opium and morphine as well as substances with similar effects. Many opioids have legitimate medical uses for painkilling, but also can produce physical addiction and a sense of euphoria that attracts recreational drug users. National controversy has raged over opioids available as prescription pills, such as oxycodone, while illegal varieties such...

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