The GBI released a report this week stating that the majority of overdose deaths in this state involved prescription drugs or a combination of prescription drugs and illicit drugs.
Approximately 15 percent of those deaths were from illicit drugs alone, the report said.
The results come from an analysis of autopsies performed by the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in 2007 and 2008 where drug overdose was the cause of death or a significant contributing factor in death, the report states.
Statistics do not include autopsies from Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Henry, hall or Rockdale Counties.
The report states of the 638 people whose deaths were analyzed by the GBI, 543 stemmed from prescription drugs or a combination of prescription and illicit drugs.
Toxicology tests show the drug of choice among those who died was methadone with 375 cases tied to it. Alprazolam was linked to 345 cases and hydrocodone was tied to 224 deaths. Oxycodone was in the bodies of 202 people dying from overdose.
Hydrocodone became a news topic in Polk County recently with the arrests of three allegedly stealing it from a local pharmacy and selling it illegally. They reportedly netted around $110,000 in sales since they began their operation in March 2008, according to law enforcement officials.
The latest GBI report indicates those dying from prescription drug abuse are generally older. Sixteen children under 17 years old died in 2008, up from eight in 2007. However, 146 people ages 36 to 45 died in 2008 and 143 in that age group died in 2007.
The largest number of deaths occurred in the 46 to 55 age group in 2008, with 163 deaths. That is a jump from 141 in that same age group dying from drug overdose in 2007.