Town Hall Meeting on Opioids Scheduled for July 18 in Tupelo

July 12, 2017 (Jackson, Miss.) – A town hall meeting in Tupelo on July 18 will address the growing impact of opioids in communities across the state. The meeting is hosted in a partnership with 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.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on July 18 at the University of Mississippi in Tupelo’s Advanced Education Center Auditorium, 1918 Briar Ridge Road,  and include a discussion with representation from all agencies, as well as representatives from across the state and the Tupelo area. This meeting is just one in a series of town halls that will be held throughout the state in the coming months. The town halls will also share information from Governor Bryant’s Opioid and Heroin Study Task Force that is expected to release recommendations later this summer.

“In Mississippi, one in 10 people misuse prescription drugs,” said Diana Mikula, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. “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% in the past decade, and many teens now say it is easier to acquire prescription drugs than it is to buy beer. 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.

Understanding addiction and strong prevention efforts can be key to keeping Mississippi families safe. While prescription opioids can be 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. “By working together through these town hall meetings, our goal is to reduce the death and destruction caused by opioid addiction.”

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DMH is supporting a better tomorrow by making a difference in the lives of Mississippians with mental illness, substance use disorders and intellectual or developmental disabilities one person at a time.