Opioid Abuse

In October 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 500,000 people died from an opioid-involved overdose from 1999 to 2019.

Fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses have been increasing in Georgia and nationally in recent years and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CDC, 92,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2020 compared to the 71,000 deaths reported in 2019.

Opioid Abuse in Georgia

No Georgia community is a stranger to the devastating effects of the opioid crisis. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, all drug overdose deaths in Georgia increased by 55.9 percent from 2019 to 2021.

Opioids, specifically fentanyl, appear to be driving these increases. From 2019 to 2021, fentanyl-involved overdose deaths increased by 218.4 percent.

Stimulant-related overdoses have also been increasing in Georgia. In 2021, nearly half of all opioid-involved overdose deaths involved a stimulant.

Statewide Opioid Task Force

The Office of the Attorney General is working every single day to combat the opioid crisis. 

In 2017, Attorney General Chris Carr announced the creation of the Statewide Opioid Task Force to provide an infrastructure of communication between organizations in the public, private and non-profit sectors that are addressing and impacted by this critical issue.

Today, the Statewide Opioid Task Force includes more than 300 partners that are working together to save lives.

We will continue working until there are no more tears, no more deaths and no more heartache as a result of the opioid epidemic.

$26 Billion Multistate Opioid Settlement

As part of its commitment to protecting the lives and livelihoods of Georgia citizens, the Department of Law is dedicated to holding accountable those who have played a critical role in contributing to the opioid crisis.

In January 2022, Attorney General Carr announced that the State of Georgia had joined the $26 billion multistate settlement agreement with Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – the nation's three major pharmaceutical distributors – and opioid manufacturer and marketer Johnson & Johnson. 

With this settlement, the state and its local governments are positioned to receive $636 million for critical treatment and prevention efforts.

With addiction on the rise, an alarming number of overdoses reported since the start of the pandemic and the influx of deadly fentanyl flooding our state, Georgia families and communities are in desperate need of help before more lives are lost. With this $636 million, Georgia will now have additional resources to strengthen our response and address this crisis head on.

Cracking Down on the Egregious Overprescribing of Opioids

Under Attorney General Carr’s leadership, the Medicaid Fraud Division has emphasized investigations involving opioid overprescribing and dispensing.

In November 2021, Attorney General Carr joined with David Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, to announce the largest civil settlement ever paid by an individual pharmacist for the alleged unlawful dispensation of controlled substances. The prescriptions frequently originated from a convicted pill-mill doctor who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in February 2020 for dispensing massive amounts of controlled substances.