Cobb County holds first opioid symposium after spike in fentanyl overdoses

Marietta, Ga. (CBS46) - Cobb County health officials are concerned about a disturbing trend. After analyzing hospital surveillance data, overdoses from fentanyl, the dangerous synthetic opioid, are spiking in the county.

Kevin Baldwin, Ph.D., a researcher who has monitored these types of overdoses, says it’s about 50 times more potent than morphine.

“All it takes, for someone who has no tolerance, is about two milligrams. That’s enough to fit on a tip of a pencil and it will kill somebody,” said Baldwin.

He was one of the speakers at Cobb County’s very first opioid symposium. He believes it’s critical to get the word out.

“Most times there is a lot of stigma around these discussions,” said Sonjetta Tiller, case manager with the Opioid Fatality Review Project.

Baldwin highlighted that in 2021, more than 100,000 people died in the United States from overdoses. Dealers are also getting creative, and selling rainbow fentanyl to attract a young clientele.

Four Georgia teenagers died after a fentanyl overdose in 2019. Last year, 36 teenagers died of it. That’s an 800 percent increase.

RELATED: ‘Rainbow fentanyl’ seen in metro Atlanta

“These drugs are being used at unprecedented rates, they are killing young people at unprecedented rates,” said Baldwin.

The symposium highlighted some things the county is doing to combat the epidemic, like the creation of an exclusive task force, identifying zip codes in need of intervention, and also educating the public on how to talk to kids about the issue.

RELATED: Authorities concerned ‘rainbow fentanyl’ could attract younger targets

“It’s critical to get the word out. People need to know how dangerous these drugs are, and people need to know there are resources,” said Baldwin.

Bridget Spencer

Bridget Spencer

Bridget is excited to be back in Atlanta telling the stories of her very own community.