Town hall meeting to focus on opioid abuse

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Prescription drug abuse and the adverse impact opioids have on communities throughout Mississippi will be the focus of a town hall meeting at the Vicksburg City Auditorium, 901 Monroe St., on Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m.

The meeting is hosted in partnership with several Mississippi agencies, including the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Public Safety, the Bureau of Narcotics, the Board of Pharmacy and the Mississippi offices of the FBI.

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The event, which is open to the public, will include a discussion with representation from those agencies, as well as local officials and professionals, including Vicksburg Police Chief Milton Moore and Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace.

This meeting is just one in a series of town hall meetings that are open to the public and being held throughout the state to educate communities about the growing issue of opioid abuse.

“In Mississippi, one in 10 people misuse prescription drugs,” Diana Mikula, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, said. “Opioids have a tremendous impact in all of our communities.  Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It occurs in families from all walks of life.”

Prescription drug abuse has surged 400 percent in the past decade, and according to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, for the past three years there were 486 reported drug overdoses in Mississippi. Of those reported, 394 were opioid related.

In 2016, there were 3,574,662 prescriptions written and 201,224,298 dosage units dispensed for opioids in Mississippi. That equals to roughly 70 pills for every man, woman, and child in Mississippi.

Mikula said that while prescription opioids are obtained from doctors for legitimate needs, they can also carry their own dangers. Misuse of those drugs can lead to physical dependence and, eventually, to full-scale mental addiction when people lose the ability to stop their misuse on sheer willpower alone.

“The partnerships we have are essential in helping us educate communities about the impact addiction is having on our state,” Mikula said. “If you or someone else needs help, we urge you to reach out. There are people throughout the state who want to help you get on the road to recovery.”