The greatest increase in opioid deaths was seen in cases involving synthetic opioids (mainly fentanyl): a rise from 61 deaths in 2012 to 419 in 2017. Deaths involving heroin also increased in the same 5-year period: from 40 to 263 deaths. The highest number of deaths in 2017— 568— involved prescription opioids.
In 2017, Georgia providers wrote 70.9 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons (Figure 2), compared to the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions. This is the lowest rate in the state since 2006 when this data became available.
The overall rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions has risen significantly since 1999 despite a recent decline in 2013. Since then, it has increased from 3.9 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2013 to 5.4 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2017.
NAS or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) may occur when a pregnant woman uses drugs such as opioids during pregnancy. A recent national study revealed a fivefold increase in the incidence of NAS/NOWS between 2004 and 2014, from 1.5 cases per 1,000 hospital births to 8.0 cases per 1,000 hospital births. This is the equivalent of one baby born with symptoms of NAS/NOWS every 15 minutes in the United States. During the same period, hospital costs for NAS/NOWS births increased from $91 million to $563 million, after adjusting for inflation. In 2016, there were 410 confirmed cases of NAS/NOWS from 47 of the 74 birthing facilities in Georgia. Opioids were confirmed in 20 percent of the cases (Georgia Department of Public Health).
Paul Broun for Congress