As a whole, Georgia residents use illegal drugs at a rate just under the national average. According to recent surveys, about seven percent of the state's residents used drugs in the last month, while about eight percent of Americans used drugs in the last month. Apart from marijuana and alcohol, addicts who seek treatment in Georgia are most often addicted to cocaine.

Deaths Caused By Drugs

Georgia also falls just under the national average for deaths caused by drugs. The state rate is 10.2 drug-induced deaths per 100,000 deaths, compared to the national average of 12.7 per 100,000.

High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA)

The HIDTA program is designed to help federal, state and local law enforcement groups cooperate to stop the spread of illegal drugs. In Atlanta, Georgia, the Atlanta airport and twelve counties within the Atlanta metropolitan area are designated high intensity areas. Atlanta is a hub city for Mexican drug cartels that import drugs from Colombia, and distribute them throughout the East Coast.

The Atlanta HIDTA also focuses on the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in certain counties within Georgia. In 2011, Georgia also enacted a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to help manage the prescription and distribution of controlled substances.

Most Common Illicit Drugs

According to the Community Epidemiology Work Group, the most frequently mentioned drugs at drug treatment centers in Georgia are marijuana, cocaine, other stimulants, opiates other than heroin, heroin and tranquilizers (listed in order of frequency):

  • Marijuana: Marijuana usage seems to be increasing slightly. In 2008, marijuana was cited more frequently than cocaine in drug treatment center admissions, for the first time in ten years.
  • Cocaine: Cocaine usage is prevalent throughout the state, and accounts for a significant portion of both drug seizures (48 percent of drug seizures within the Atlanta metropolitan area involve cocaine), and calls to the Georgia Poison Center. It is the second most frequently mentioned drug at treatment centers.
  • Other stimulants: Treatment admissions for methamphetamine users decreased somewhat in the last decade, but methamphetamine lab raids increased significantly between 2007 and 2009. This statewide trend echoes the national trend. Meth labs have proliferated across the country in the past few years as both “smurfing" (the purchase of pseudoephredrine as an ingredient for meth) and “one-pot" labs have spread.
  • Other opiates and narcotics: Usage of oxycodone and hydrocodone increased in 2009.
  • Heroin: Treatment admissions for individuals addicted to heroin increased slightly in 2009. Calls to the Georgia Poison Center regarding heroin also increased.
  • Tranquilizers: Alprazolam (a commonly used benzodiazepine) usage represents a small portion of the number of treatment admissions in the state, but seems to indicate a growing trend in prescription drug abuse.
  • Ecstasy: Use of club drugs seems to be decreasing in the state.

Zero-Tolerance Law

Georgia is one of 17 states in the country with a zero-tolerance law for drugged driving. This means that no one may drive in the state while under the influence of any amount of marijuana or other controlled substance.

The zero-tolerance law reflects the state's commitment to stemming the spread of drugs and addiction.