addiction treatment

Ellen Eldridge / GPB News

Deaths from opioids have dropped nationally, but fatal overdoses are a top concern in Georgia. One police department is trying something new: instead of locking them up, officers are steering people who overdose into treatment.

Jessica Gurell / GPB

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 200,000 opioid-related deaths in the United States over the last two decades. Georgia has some of the nation's hardest-hit counties. White users have largely been the face of the epidemic, but the problem affects every demographic.

Nolen has no health insurance coverage and his treatment for opioid addiction is funded by a grant program Congress approved in 2016 under the 21st Century Cures Act.
AP Photo / Mark Humphrey

The indulgences of the holidays are behind us, and Dry January is trending. But that movement to give up drinking alcohol, in this case for a month, is more than a fad for those who struggle with alcohol abuse or other substance abuse addictions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 88,000 Americans die from excessive alcohol use each year.

By comparison, drug overdoses amid the opioid crisis caused 72,000 deaths. Researchers from the University of Washington found the number of deaths attributable to alcohol rose 35 percent from 2007 to 2017 – and Georgia is the state with the second highest rate of deaths, followed by Alabama at No. 3.

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

President Trump declared a public health emergency to deal with the opioid epidemic Thursday, freeing up some resources for treatment. More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are currently dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history," Trump said, adding, "it's just been so long in the making. Addressing it will require all of our effort."

"We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic," he said.