Atlanta is the most populated city in Georgia, with the economic and cultural center of the metropolitan area being home to 5.7 million people. Established in 1837, Atlanta is the county seat of Fulton County. The city has rose from ashes since the Civil War and has earned a reputation as “too busy to hate,” mainly for its progressive views. Exerting a major impact on finance, commerce, research, education, technology, media, art, and entertainment, Atlanta ranks 8th in the nation with a $270 billion gross domestic product. A 2012 report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse
found that cocaine use has declined in Atlanta, with only 10.5 percent of treatment admissions being related to this substance. In addition, alcohol is the most consumed in Atlanta and with an increase in the number of crisis line calls related to alcohol (from 20,400 in 2011 to 21,400 in 2012). Methamphetamine-related rehab admissions have increased from 5.2% in 2010 to 6.4% in 2012 for Atlanta and 5% of these admissions are related to heroin use/abuse.
Columbus, GA is the seat of Muscogee County and it has a population of 203,000 residents. As part of the Columbus-Phenix City Metropolitan Area, this region joins Phenix City, Auburn, and Opelika Alabama. Directly across the Chattahoochee River, Columbus lies 100 miles southwest of Atlanta. The average income for a household in Columbus is $41,000, with 12.8% of families living below the poverty line. There are 200 Christian churches in Columbus and it is home to three Kingdom Halls for Jehovah’s Witnesses. According to a 2013 Healthy Americans report, Georgia has an overdose mortality rate of 10.7 per 100,000 people. Prescription drugs misuse and abuse is a major problem in many areas. Heroin is on the rise in Columbus based on a report by WTVM. There were 863 overdose-related emergency department visits in 2014 alone in this city.
Savannah is Georgia’s oldest city and it is the county seat of Chatham County. Located on the Savannah River, the city became the British colonial capital in 1733. After the Civil War, Savannah grew as an industrial center and important Atlantic seaport. Savannah is home of the Georgia Historical Society, the Telfair Academy of Arts and Science, the Temple Mickye Israel, the First African Baptist Church, and the Central of Georgia Railway Roundhouse Complex. The median family income is only $36,400 and 18% of families are below the poverty line. Savannah, Georgia has a major opioid problem, according to Savannah Now. Between 2012 and 2014, there were 82 opioid (painkiller pill) overdoses per 100,000 people in Chatham County alone. The National Institutes on Drug Abuse lists opioids as a major threat to health and wellness.
A consolidated city-county, Athens, GA is in the northeastern region of the state and is the county seat of Clarke County. Athens Proper abandoned its charter in 1991 and unified to form one government with Clarke County, which is now referred to as Athens-Clarke County. There are 116,000 people in Athens. In 1872, Henry Beusse was city’s first mayor and he was instrumental in its’ growth following the Civil War. When freed slaves came to Athens, the new population was served by three black newspapers, including the Progressive Era. By 1901, the professional class and African-American middle class grew in Athens around the corner of Hull and Washington Streets (known as the “Hot Corner”). The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has seen a 300% increase in heroin from 2011 to 2014. According to OnlineAthens, there were 3 heroin-related deaths in 2013 and then it increased to 59 by 2014 in the state.
A suburban city in northern Fulton County, Sandy Springs, GA is part of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area. With 102,000 citizens, Sandy Springs was incorporated in 2005. Of the 48,300 households in Sandy Springs, 21% have children under age 18 living in them. The average family size is 2.87, and there are 95 males to every 100 females here. The average family income is $170,000 and only 3% of the population live below the poverty line. According to drug statistics from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, from the Sandy Springs-Atlanta-Marietta area, 489 people used marijuana during a year’s time from 2005-2010, 875 a year engage in binge drinking and 181 use prescription drugs for a non-medical reason.
Macon, GA is a city 85 miles south of Atlanta. Called the “Heart of Georgia,” Macon is the county seat of Bibb county. Approximately 231,000 people reside in Macon, which is situated near the fall line of the Ocmulgee River. The city of Macon is home to the Middle Georgia Regional Airport and the Herbert Small Downtown Airport. In addition, the Macon Symphony Orchestra performs at the Grand Opera House as well as the Middle Georgia Concert Band. The Georgia Senate is making efforts to halt the prescription drug abuse problem in Georgia. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation found that between 2010 and 2011, 512 of 664 fatal substance overdoses were due to a prescription drug. Another 70 overdose deaths occurred from mixing these legal drugs with an illicit substance. Under the Georgia Pain Management Clinic Act, two key pieces of legislation have been enacted to curb the problem of prescription drug abuse and stop the operation of pill mills in this state.
In Fulton County, Georgia, 94,000 people call their home the city of Roswell. During the Civil War, Union forces took over the city and mill workers were shipped north to prevent them from returning to work in Roswell. The mill was destroyed but the 30-foot dam used for power still remains. After the war, Barrington King rebuilt mills and many freed men stayed to work there. During the Great Depression, economic conditions drove many into Roswell, which merged with Fulton County. In January 2016, WABE reported on the emerging heroin overdose epidemic in Fulton County. In 2010, only 4 people died from heroin overdoses, however in 2015, 82 people were victims of heroin fatalities. The city and county police, community leaders, and politicians are concerned, so they set up a task force to tackle the growing heroin addiction problem.
The county seat of Dougherty County, Albany, GA is located in the state’s southwest region. Home to around 77,400 people, Albany is the 8th largest Georgia city. In 1912, the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse opened and Chehaw Park was constructed in 1937. During the 1950s and 1960s, many servicemen and U.S. Marine Corps workers arrived in in the city and the population began to grow. African-Americans in Albany were instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement and they led many protests and demonstrations to end segregation and gain the right to vote. Much of the white population then moved out of the city and the remaining African-American groups struggled in a poor economy. In 1988, Albany was known as the “Murder Capital of America,” as it had the highest murder rate per capita in the U.S. Today, one of the main problems that the city has is prescription drug use/abuse. According to South Georgia drug agents and reports on WLAB, methamphetamine use is growing in Albany. Surveys from the Georgia Meth Project found that 34% of young adults report that meth is easy to get and 35% of teens in the state reported they see little to no risk in trying the drug.
Located in Fulton County, Johns Creek, Georgia is home to 77,000 people and is a northeaster suburb of Atlanta. The city has a total area of 31 square miles and runs along the Chattahoochee River. Johns Creek has a humid subtropical climate, with temperatures ranging from 75 in January, to 98 in August. The top employers in this city are State Farm, Alcon, Macy’s Systems and Technology, and Kroger. The racial makeup of Johns Creek is 63% white, 23% Asian, 9% African-American, 5% Hispanic, and the remaining small percentages of Thai, Cambodian, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Venezuelan, Indonesian, and Pakistani, among others. Based on information from NorthFulton.com, there were 23 overdose deaths here related to heroin in 2014 alone. Of these deaths, almost 3/4ths of the victims were male and nearly 2/3rds were under the age of 30 years. The heroin is pure, black tar, laced with fentanyl, or combined with other drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Located in Houston County, 66,600 people live in Warner Robins, GA. This city is part of the Macon-Warner Robins Statistical Area and has an average family size of 3.03. The median income for a family is around $44,000 in Warner Robins, with 11% of families subsiding below the poverty line. One of the largest employers here is the Robins Air Force Base, and the city is working on renewing areas that have suffered “urban decay” from abandonment, neglect, or other issues. In 2016, there were 71 warrants issued in what city officials called a massive drug ring. WMAZ reported that the joint investigation involved the Houston County Georgia Sheriff’s Office, the DA’s office, and the Warner Robins Police.