Opioid Prevention

Fulton County Initiatives

End opioid abuse

Opioid Prevention

Like communities around the nation, Fulton County has been deeply affected by the opioid crisis. Since 2010, the number of opioid-related emergency visits and opioid-related deaths has increased in Fulton County, across Georgia and across the state.

Fulton County has established an Opioid Coordinator role in the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities to help coordinate our activities in response to the Opioid crisis.

In 2017, Fulton County became the first Georgia county to file suit against opioid manufacturers and distributors for their role in this crisis. 

Georgia Attorney General's "Dose of Reality" Website

Three Steps to Save a Life In Case of Overdose

If you are struggling with opioid addiction, know that help is available and recovery is possible. 

Opioid Prevention



The majority of opioid abuse cases begin with prescription drug use. One effective means of preventing opioid misuse is to dispose of unneeded and unused prescription opioids.

Drug disposal boxes are located throughout Fulton County, which provide a place to safely and securely dispose of prescription drugs. Pharmaceuticals are regularly retrieved from the locked boxes and transported to the GBI incinerator in metro Atlanta by law enforcement personnel. 

Locate the drug disposal box closest to you with the Fulton County Drug Disposal Box Locator. View list of disposal boxes.

Accepted items include:

  • Prescription medications
  • Controlled substances 
  • All over-the-counter medications
  • Medication samples
  • Pet medications
  • Vitamins & supplements
  • Homeopathic remedies
  • Medicated ointments, lotions, creams and oils
  • Liquid medication in leak-proof containers

Items NOT Accepted Include:

  • Needles/sharps
  • Syringes with needles
  • Thermometers
  • IV bags
  • Bloody or infectious waste
  • Personal care products
  • Empty containers
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Facts About Opioid Abuse

Opioids have claimed the lives of hundreds of residents in Fulton County, and thousands around the nation.

Drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States. From 1999 to 2017, more than 702,000 people died from a drug overdose. In 2017 alone, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid according to the US Centers for Disease Control.

Millions of Americans suffer from pain and are often prescribed opioids to treat their conditions. However, the dangers of prescription misuse, opioid use disorder, and overdose have been a growing problem throughout the United States. Therefore, opioid use has become a complex web of misuse or abuse, creating a crisis with devastating costs in human life and economic impact.

Since the 1990s, when the amount of opioids prescribed to patients began to grow, the number of overdoses and deaths from prescription opioids has also increased.

Even as the amount of opioids prescribed and sold for pain increased, the amount of pain that Americans report did not similarly change. Now, in a trend that seems to be accelerating, prescriptions for opioid pain medication have been falling according to a report by the health analytics firm IQVIA and reported to Pain News Network.

Per the report, the volume of prescription opioids dispensed in the United States in 2018 fell 17 percent, the largest annual decline ever recorded. While opioid prescriptions have fallen significantly, addiction and overdose rates continue to soar, fueled largely by illicit fentanyl, heroin and other black market opioids. 

According to RTI International’s research, 24.2% of young adults (ages 18 -25) were current users of illicit drugs in 2017, compared to 7.9% of adolescents (ages 12 -17) and 9.5% of adults (26 or older). One of the most important responses to the current crisis is to limit future deaths by keeping people, particularly at-risk populations like adolescents and young adults from misusing opioids in the first place. 

Opioid use disorders (OUDs) can be effectively treated with a combination of medications, behavioral therapies and counseling. OUD medications such as buprenorphine and methadone have been shown to reduce death rates by up to 50% and help individuals return to normal social relations, along with work and/or school.

For more information, please call 404-612-3561 or email Lynnette.allen@fultoncountyga.gov

Fulton County Opioid Prevention Plan

During its July 19,  2019 board meeting, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution sponsored by Vice Chairman Bob Ellis, District 2, and Commissioner Liz Hausmann, District 1, establishing an Opioid Misuse & Abuse Prevention Plan for Fulton County.

The resolution seeks to implement prevention solutions in response to a growing opioid epidemic in Fulton County and nationwide. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office identified 154 opioid-related deaths in 2016, an increase of 156% since 2010. In 2015, Fulton County had approximately 11.7 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 residents, more than double the national rate.

The Prevention Plan established through the resolution provides a framework based on four key steps:

  1. Increase the Number of Drug Drop Boxes – while also ensuring that the public is aware of those boxes, in coordination with Fulton County cities and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Approximately 80% of heroin addictions begin with prescription opioid use, and most of those traced to one’s own prescription or that of a friend or family member.

  2. Introduce a Crisis Text Assistant Line - in Fulton County and Atlanta public schools, providing information and resources to teens and young adults who text for assistance with bullying, behavioral health needs and other concerns that place them at higher risk of opioid use. A budget of $30,000 was approved to establish the pilot, which is modeled after a similar program in Lake County, IL.
  3. Launch a Public Awareness Campaign - to raise awareness and provide education about the risks associated with opioid addiction and intervention resources, in coordination with stakeholders, including schools, cities and other partners. The program will be launched in September, which will be declared as “Opioid Misuse and Abuse Awareness Month.”
  4. Enhance Education and Accountability from Medical Providers through development and distribution of educational materials for prescribing physicians as well as patients.

Key Fulton County departments will be part of the plan implementation, including Behavioral Health, Public Health, law enforcement agencies, and others.

Text 4 Help Program

Through the Text 4 Help program, the Fulton County serves students in crisis or those who want to help friends or classmates anonymously.   Text 4 Help, which originally served five Fulton County High Schools, now serves all 17 high schools operated by Fulton County Schools.

Text 4 Help, formerly known as Text-A-Tip, began as a pilot program in January 2018 under the leadership of Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis and was supported by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. The Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority is now funding the program for the second year.

Fulton County was the first county in the southeast to offer the program.   Other texting programs exist, but Text 4 Help is the only one in the region with licensed clinicians who respond 24/7. 

Text 4 Help allows high school students to connect anonymously through text messages to a licensed mental health professional for resources and referrals. The text line is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Text 4 Help is managed through Fulton County’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities with its contracted service provider, which is CHRIS 180.

During the initial quarter of the Text 4 Help pilot program, 26 users sent a total of 297 text messages. As the program expanded into additional schools during the fourth quarter of 2018, 65 users sent 455 text messages to the clinicians.

Clinicians answered a variety of texts from teens who addressed subjects such as bullying, substance abuse, relationships and academic pressure.



Fulton County Behavioral Health Services

fulton County opioid coordinator