DMH and DPS Strengthen Partnership to Save Lives

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) is partnering with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (DPS) to provide naloxone, a life-saving medication that blocks or reverses effects of opioid overdoses, to all sworn personnel of DPS. This effort was funded by the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant, as part of the 21st Century Cures Act and is consistent with the final recommendations made by the Governor’s Opioid and Heroin Study Task Force.

The partnership and delivery of the medication was announced in a press conference attended by Governor Phil Bryant, DMH Executive Director Diana Mikula, DPS Commissioner Marshall Fisher, and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director John Dowdy on Thursday, August 3.

“I am grateful this partnership between the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety will allow sworn law enforcement personnel to carry this lifesaving drug,” Governor Phil Bryant said.   “We must employ every available resource to combat opioid overdoses in our state, and I appreciate these agencies’ cooperation to contribute to that effort.”

DMH Executive Director Diana Mikula said this partnership will help save lives, but also urged people in need of treatment to seek the help they need.

“Even with this medication, it is important to remember that this is no substitute for treatment,” 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.”

Naloxone is a medication that can block or reverse the effects of opioids, particularly in an overdose situation. While there are no adverse effects to administering naloxone to someone in distress, it is important to note that its use is not a substitute for emergency medical care, which should be administered as soon as possible after a suspected overdose or use of naloxone. While naloxone can reverse the effects of an overdose, its effects are limited and an overdose situation can still occur when the medication’s effects wear off after approximately 30 to 60 minutes.

“In Mississippi, about one out of every 10 people misuses prescription drugs in some way,” said Michael Jordan, the State Opioid Treatment Authority with the DMH Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services and “The abuse of prescription drugs has led to a surge in opioid and heroin addiction, and this is an issue that is costing people their lives.”

House Bill 996, passed in Mississippi’s 2017 legislative session, permits the use of standing orders for naloxone at pharmacies across the state.  These standing orders allow any individual to request to purchase naloxone at a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription.  Walgreens, CVS, and Kroger pharmacies have enacted standing orders for naloxone. The medication is sold under several brand names, most notably NARCAN®, which is the brand distributed by DMH to DPS.

“This is a life-saving medication that most states supply to their law enforcement officers,” Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher said. “This is another tool we will use as we battle the opioid epidemic plaguing our state and nation.”

For more information please contact Mississippi State Targeted Opioid Project at 601-398-4406.