Audit: Barriers prevent adequate treatment for opioid abuse in Georgia


Georgia does not provide adequate access to medical treatment for opioid abuse, whether it is because it’s difficult for those in rural areas to get to a facility or state agencies that supervise people don’t have clear guidance on providing the medicine, an audit found recently.

The Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts on Monday released a study of the state’s efforts to help residents who are addicted to opioids get the necessary treatment.

According to the study, nearly 1,000 Georgians died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016, which was up from a reported 633 overdose deaths in 2012.

The audit found that programs in place don’t adequately provide the treatment — medicine and counseling — that studies find is best to help those addicted to opioids.

“Georgia has not developed a comprehensive strategy to address all aspects of the opioid epidemic,” auditors wrote in the report.

Auditors recommend Georgia create a statewide strategic plan that focuses on preventing, monitoring and treating opioid abuse.

Georgia Department of Public Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said that process already has begun.

“No single agency has the ability on its own to eliminate the opioid epidemic in Georgia,” Nydam said. “DPH is working with more than 30 members of a statewide task force and other stakeholders to address the opioid crisis in the state.”

Auditors estimate about 180,000 Georgians abuse opioids. In fiscal 2017, fewer than 30,000 received medication-assisted treatment, the study found. The fiscal year runs from July through June.

There are 72 narcotic treatment centers — commonly known as methadone clinics — across the state. Northwest Georgia, along the Tennessee and Alabama borders, is prime territory for the clinics, where there are more facilities per person than any other region of the state.

Georgians in rural areas have to travel a greater distance than those in more populated parts of the state, which auditors said is a hindrance since daily treatment often is required.

A bill that went into effect in May that aims to spread the clinics across the state will divide the state into 49 regions and limit the number of facilities in each region to four. Areas that already have more than four methadone facilities will be able to keep their facilities.

Auditors recommend the state study where there is a need for and capacity to provide treatment and open more facilities in those areas.

State agencies that supervise people — such as those on probation — don’t always allow them to get medication-assisted treatment.

Consistent policies need to be created to ensure opioid abusers access to treatment, auditors said.

“When individuals cannot access, they may seek other less effective treatments or no treatment at all, increasing the risk of trauma, violence, communicable diseases, and death,” the auditors wrote.

Staff reporter Jeremy Redmon contributed to this article.


Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

The right is still waiting for Al Franken to admit he did something wrong
The right is still waiting for Al Franken to admit he did something wrong

Did Minnesota Sen. Al Franken’s resignation speech ring hollow? Some on the right sure thought so. A roundup of editorials Friday critiques Franken’s comments and the meaning behind them. From The American Spectator: From his speech, it seems Franken was the victim. If he wasn’t guilty, why did he resign? From Fox News: Maybe we missed...
The left is calling on Congress to do the right thing with the CHIP program
The left is calling on Congress to do the right thing with the CHIP program

Congress missed a Sept. 30 deadline to extend funding for The Children’s Health Insurance Program. Now they are fighting over how to fund it. A roundup of editorials Friday calls on Congress to do the right thing by these children and their families.  From The New York Times: A bipartisan group of governors reminds legislators that CHIP...
The left remains stunned at the GOP’s support of Roy Moore
The left remains stunned at the GOP’s support of Roy Moore

Can the Republicans claim any high ground – or separation from the president -- after the party decided to support Roy Moore? A roundup of editorials Thursday takes a look at the issue. From nj.com: How is there a place for Roy Moore in the Senate if he got kicked out of an Alabama mall? From U.S. News and World Report: Why would the GOP choose...
The right wonders why Democrats had such a hard time condemning Al Franken
The right wonders why Democrats had such a hard time condemning Al Franken

What took the left so long to call Al Franken out? A roundup of editorials Thursday takes a look at the issue. From The Washington Examiner: Why are the Democrats calling for Franken to resign? They want to grab the moral high ground. From azcentral.com: One too many accusations tip the balance against Franken. From The Boston Herald: The GOP&rsquo...
Census: Atlanta region among the worst for traffic as poverty grows
Census: Atlanta region among the worst for traffic as poverty grows

If the hours you spend idling on the Atlanta region’s congested highways aren’t enough evidence, a new U.S. Census Bureau report confirms the metro area has some of the nation’s worst traffic. To be released Thursday, the new American Community Survey’s five-year estimates show residents in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell...
More Stories