Where opioids are coming from in SWGA & what some will do to get them

A Sylvester woman credits her children as what saved her after being hooked on pain pills. / Photo: Danielle Ledbetter

A Sylvester woman credits her children as what saved her after being hooked on pain pills.

Tiffany Hancock remembers how it all started, “I had some stomach problems and they ended up doing some surgeries and I spent some time in the hospital and in the course of that, I ended up getting addicted to pain pills."

At first, she doctor shopped to get various prescriptions. "I'd always find something wrong with me,” she recalls.

For years, she says she was constantly chasing her next high. "I ended up pawning some of my daddy's guns just to get money, I even had teeth pulled ya know just to get pain pills… perfectly good teeth.”

This went on until one day she had enough and ended up at a rehab facility, the Potter’s House in Milner, Georgia.

While at The Potter's House, Hancock says, “I just learned how to live life a different way and it made me a better parent, a better friend and just a better person in general."

Because of her addiction, she lost custody of her kids but Hancock was determined to get her children back and get clean.

On a broad scale, there are two types of opioids: prescription and non-prescription/illicit. Prescriptions are legally manufactured while illicit are not according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

On the prescription side, there are a few ways these drugs are ending up in Southwest Georgia, according to the GBI.

Doctors abusing the system is one way according to the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit. Other ways include people ‘doctor shopping’ and people getting prescriptions and selling them.

Then there’s non-prescription opioids like heroin.

Joe Chesnut, a special agent with the GBI, says, “The majority of narcotics, not just opioids, generally comes from Metro Atlanta as it is considered a hub for the eastern side of the United States”

The GBI says it’s not just the metro Atlanta area but street opioids have been tracked in southwest Georgia from Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida.

From those larger cities, experts suspect the drugs are being sourced from Mexico and China.

Chesnut says, “It's always been opium and opiate coming from southeast Asia and the China area but in the past few years we've seen the majority of drugs seized in metro Atlanta area come from Mexico.”

Some users say they don’t care where the pills are coming from and for that reason, Hancock considers herself one of the lucky ones.

She’s ecstatic she made it through that tough time and she now has custody of her three kids.

Her experience has given her the opportunity to encourage and inspire others going through something similar.

She says don't give up hope, there is help, death is not the only way out.

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