Savannah has multiple treatment centers and support groups designed to give individuals the opportunity to reach and maintain sobriety. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offer continued support and provide a strong community for those in recovery.
Savannah is currently facing an opioid abuse epidemic similar to what the rest of the country is experiencing. According to the CDC, there were between 10.1 and 12 lethal drug overdoses per 100,000 residents in Chatham County in 2014. These drugs included opioids, such as heroin, morphine, codeine and methadone, as well as marijuana, cocaine and LSD.
Chatham County documented 82 opioid overdoses from 2012 to 2014 — a rate of 10 overdoses per 100,000 residents, according to Savannah Morning News. Although opioids present a sizable problem in Savannah, officials are also alarmed by the rise of crystal meth use.
Savannah Morning News reported in 2012 that crystal meth use was becoming more prevalent in coastal Georgia communities. From 2002 to 2012, authorities throughout Georgia’s coast observed a continuing increase in the use, distribution and manufacturing of methamphetamine.
In response to the growing number of people using and distributing crystal meth in the Savannah area, the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department created the Meth Strike Force. This task force comprises law enforcement teams in four counties that work together to stop the distribution, manufacturing and abuse of crystal meth in the coastal Georgia region.
Illicit drugs are trafficked into the coastal Georgia region by highway systems, planes, buses and cargo ships.
Savannah is close to Interstate 95, which spans the entire East Coast of the United States. I-95 is a major route for drug smuggling because of its accessibility to many major cities and highway systems throughout the country.
Major train and bus companies also operate in Savannah and connect passengers to destinations across the state and country. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, law enforcement officials report that passengers will sometimes traffic illicit substances by concealing them on their person or in their luggage.
Savannah is also a major port city and is home to the Port of Savannah. This deepwater port receives the most container cargo in Georgia, and it is one of the top five busiest ports for container cargo in the Southeast. Illicit drugs can be smuggled on cargo containers among legitimate goods and distributed throughout the country.
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Savannah has much to offer, including history, culture, recreation and an impressive culinary scene. The city provides a fantastic community for those who have embraced a sober lifestyle.
A historic city with the charm and culture that embodies the Old South, Savannah is home to many landmarks from the Civil War, including Fort James Jackson and Fort Pulaski. Enjoy the cobblestone streets, oak trees draped with Spanish moss and squares that feature art pieces and statues of historic figures. For those interested in the city’s exquisite culinary scene, any visitor or resident can find the ultimate Southern fine dining experience at The Olde Pink House.
Free Savannah Walking Tours offers 90-minute guided walking tours of the city’s historic district. The tours are free of charge, but guests may pay their tour guide in gratuity after the tour. The Savannah waterfront provides a collection of restaurants and boutiques that are great to explore on a sunny day. Savannah is also close to Tybee Island, which is home to a beach, restaurants and multiple recreational opportunities such as kayaking and fishing.
Many job industries flourish in Savannah. The city is home to the largest aerospace manufacturer in the southeast United States — Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation — and more than 30 aerospace-related businesses. Logistics and distribution is a key job industry with more than 4 million square feet of distribution center space within 30 miles of the Port of Savannah. The city also supports a strong manufacturing industry and is home to companies such as Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas, Benedetto Guitars, International Paper and more.
According to Forbes, the unemployment rate in Savannah is lower than the national average. The cost of living in Savannah is 2.5 percent below the national average, and the median home price is significantly lower than the national average.
The Savannah city government is dedicated to minimizing the negative effects of substance abuse in the community and has passed multiple city codes pertaining to substance abuse prevention.
The Savannah Code of General Ordinances addresses the responsibilities and support required of parents in Savannah. One law establishes that it is a parental duty to keep controlled substances out of the home and away from children unless they were prescribed by a licensed medical professional. It also forbids children from obtaining or possessing alcoholic beverages and requires parents or children to attend counseling or substance abuse treatment if either is deemed necessary by a legal authority.
Another law bans substance abuse in the city’s international airport. The code says that no person shall illegally use, possess, sell or distribute alcohol or other drugs at the airport. It also makes it illegal for travelers to be under the influence of unauthorized controlled substances, including narcotics and prescription drugs when they are misused.
Savannah area law enforcement has teamed up with local organizations to stop the spread of drugs in the community. A number of task forces, community-wide efforts and movements have joined together to minimize substance abuse in Savannah.
The Counter Narcotics Team is a collaboration between the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department and law enforcement from the surrounding area that works to combat drug crime in Chatham County. The team is made up of several internal units that focus on different levels of drug-related crimes ranging from street-level sales to large scale drug organizations.
The Bryan County Drug Free Coalition is made up of dozens of individuals and organizations that collaborate to identify the most critical substance abuse problems in the community and to raise awareness of the dangers of substance abuse. The coalition’s mission is to “be a community alliance dedicated to implementing comprehensive strategies within a strategic prevention framework to prevent and reduce substance abuse among area youth and promote positive long-term community change.”
In addition to working to prevent drug crime in Chatham County, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office recognizes the potential damage prescription drug abuse can cause in the community and have created initiatives to minimize that damage.
The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office lobby contains a Prescription Drug Collection Unit where citizens can safely dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired prescription drugs. The unit is open 24/7 year-round.
The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office routinely partners with the Drug Enforcement Administration to host prescription drug take-back days. These events give individuals the opportunity to dispose of their prescription drugs at multiple locations in the county such as CVS pharmacies.
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Colleges and universities in the Savannah area provide counseling and support for students struggling with substance abuse.
Savannah State students experiencing problems with substance abuse can receive support at the Harris-McDew Student Health Center. The center offers assistance with a number of different health concerns, including substance abuse. Students can also visit the center to participate in wellness promotion programs and substance education programs. For students who require more intensive care for their substance use disorder, the center can provide referrals for specialty substance abuse treatment programs.
Savannah Technical College recognizes the importance of addressing substance abuse in the academic community before it can become a problem. The college partners with EverFi — a company that aims to develop life skills such as alcohol abuse prevention among high school and college students — to give students information about substance abuse through informational courses. New students complete courses about alcohol and substance abuse during their first semester of enrollment.
For students struggling with substance abuse, Savannah Technical College provides referrals for treatment programs and support in the Savannah area.
South University encourages all students exhibiting signs of a substance use disorder to speak to a counselor. The college uses Talk One-2-One, a free service that provides professional counseling sessions over the phone 24/7. These counselors assist students in need and may also offer referrals to a treatment provider in the community.
In 2008, Georgia Southern University established the Center for Addiction Recovery, a collegiate recovery program that provides support to students in recovery. The program assists students with finding sober living arrangements off campus and provides a designated space on campus where students can work on their recovery.
The Center for Addiction Recovery offers one-on-one academic support from staff, weekly relapse-prevention seminars, support group meetings and peer support. Those in the collegiate recovery program can also earn scholarships if they demonstrate financial need and excellence in leadership and academics. Students who want to join the collegiate recovery program must sign a contract agreeing to remain in stable recovery while participating in the program. Georgia Southern routinely enrolls more than 40 students into the collegiate recovery program every semester.
Several organizations in Savannah can help people in recovery find work. Services such as skill training, resume writing, job placement and adult education classes prepare people to find jobs and succeed in the workplace.
Coastal Workforce Services provides assistance with job searching, placement services, skill training and development to individuals who are unemployed. For those who are underqualified for a position that would allow them to make a living wage, Coastal Workforce Services provides training services to help them develop a broader range of skills. The organization is housed in the Savannah Career Center, close to downtown Savannah.
Step Up Savannah provides workforce development services for individuals without a high school diploma or GED. Through a number of programs, Step Up helps individuals earn their GED, become workforce ready and learn valuable work skills.
Many in Savannah with substance use disorders are vulnerable and require additional support in recovery. For those struggling with substance abuse, a number of organizations in Savannah can help.
The Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless provides assistance to homeless families and individuals in Chatham County. The agency coordinates services for the homeless and provides street outreach and case management for those in need. For homeless individuals struggling with substance abuse, the organization can provide referrals to substance abuse treatment and supportive services to give individuals the opportunity to reach recovery.
The United Way of the Coastal Empire uses a number of different programs, volunteers and resources to assist community residents in need. From January to June 2016, more than 100 adults received behavioral health and substance abuse treatment through the efforts of the United Way of the Coastal Empire. The organization also helps people develop life skills to find and maintain employment. It provides support for personal crises, fosters support for community youth and improves the quality of life for seniors and individuals with disabilities.