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ARC Report: Opioid-related Overdose Deaths Increase Sharply in Metro Atlanta

Atlanta — May 02, 2018

The rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in metro Atlanta has nearly doubled since 2013 and more than tripled since 2006, according to an analysis of state data by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

ARC analyzed state Department of Public Health data for the 10-county Atlanta region between 1999 and 2016. The full analysis is available on ARC’s Research & Analytics blog, 33n.

Key findings include:

  • The rate of overdose deaths from all opioids (both heroin and prescription pain relievers) was 12.6 per 100,000 people in 2016, compared to 6.8 in 2013 and 4.1 in 2006.
  • The rate of overdose deaths from prescription opioids was 6.2 per 100,000 people in 2016, compared to 3.6 in 2013 and 2.4 in 2006.
  • Since 1999, the total number of prescription opioid-related overdose deaths has increased at 2.5 times the rate of all overdose deaths and at over 1.5 times the rate of all opioid-related overdose deaths.
  • The death rate for opioid-related overdoses in metro Atlanta is higher than that of the state of Georgia.
  • Cobb County has experienced a dramatic increase in prescription opioid deaths, rising from 8 in 2013 to 61 in 2016 – the most in the 10-county region. Fulton County had the second-highest number of deaths, at 47.

Chart - Opioid-related Overdose Deaths on Rise in Metro Atlanta

“These numbers tell a troubling story: Far too many people in metro Atlanta are dying from opioid-related overdoses,” said Mike Carnathan, Manager of ARC’s Research & Analytics Group. “The good news is that much is happening at the local and state levels to address this crisis.”

ARC routinely analyzes public health data as part of its efforts to inform regional leaders and the public about key topics and quality of life issues facing the Atlanta region. The information about opioid-related overdose deaths will be included in ARC’s upcoming Regional Snapshot about public health in metro Atlanta.

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