Paulding County’s death rate by drug overdose was higher than the state average in 2017.
The county's rate was 15.7 per 100,000 population compared to a death rate of 14.7 for the state of Georgia, according to information from the Georgia Department of Public Health.
To help combat the trend, the Paulding County Health Department and the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office are partnering to provide a "drug drop box" at the health department for disposal of old prescription drugs.
The box is part of the Northwest Georgia Health District Opioid Epidemic Prevention Action Plan and seeks to move dangerous narcotics off the street and adequately dispose of them, a news release stated.
Drug drop boxes are now located in Paulding County at:
• Paulding County Health Department, 451 Jimmy Campbell Parkway, Dallas
• Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, 247 Industrial Way N, Dallas,
• Hiram City Hall. 217 Main St, Hiram.
Dr. Unini Odama, health director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District, which includes Paulding County, said, “Permanent drug drop boxes can be an effective, active mechanism to remove opioids and other dangerous controlled substances from our communities and help prevent accidental overdose and deaths."
“Rural and urban community residents need a safe and convenient access to drug disposal options, and we believe offering this service at the health department meets that need,” he said.
The Northwest Health District had the highest death rate by drug overdose of all Georgia public health districts, according to statistics.
The district is comprised of Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Paulding, Polk, and Walker counties.
Paulding County Health Department Nurse Manager Donna Stanford said, “The No. 1 risk factor for opioid addiction is exposure to opioids before the age of 18 and we believe having an additional, easily accessible drug drop box in our county will help minimize inadvertent exposure to drugs.”
Paulding County Sheriff Gary Gulledge said, “We recognize that opioid addiction has many manifestations and requires a multitude of preventive measures from many sources in our community.
"It was very significant for the health department to step forward and partner with us to install a drug drop box in their facility. We have a drug drop box in the lobby of the jail, and it gets filled on a regular basis, so we have no doubt the new one at the health department will serve a need in the community.”
The disposed drugs in the drop box will be picked up weekly and incinerated by the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office. There is no key to the box on the health department premises.
For more information about the Paulding County Health Department’s drug drop box, call 770-443-7881.