Picayune hosts Town Hall meeting about opioid addiction

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 23, 2017

A town hall meeting covering the current opioid addiction problem in Mississippi and Pearl River County took place at First Baptist Church of Picayune Tuesday night.

Attendees of the meeting discussed the negative impact of opioid abuse in the county and the state of Mississippi.

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“Between 2013 and 2016, there have been 563 drug-related deaths and 63 percent are opioid related,” Governor Phil Bryant said through a video message at the meeting. “Also, 80 percent of people addicted to heroin started with a prescription drug.”

Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Lieutenant John Harless began the event by sharing a series of statistics.

“Between 1999 and 2015, prescriptions for opioids in Mississippi have quadrupled,” Harless said. “For people under 50-years-old, opioid overdose is more deadly than automobile accidents.”

Currently, the three most used opioids are prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, Harless said.

“Fentanyl is a clandestine drug that is made in a chemistry lab,” Harless said. “Anyone can be affected by opioids so let’s do everything possible to help someone in need.”

Lisa Crain, the director of the Crossroads Recovery Center, also discussed how the center is helping people with opioid addiction, alcohol addiction and increasing awareness of these problems locally.

“Many people think they can’t get help because they can’t afford to pay for the services and that’s not true,” Crain said. “If you come to our office, we will work with you and help you in any way possible.”

John Dowdy, Director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, said the best way to fight the opioid abuse issue is to get rid of any prescription drugs at home.

“We’re starting to see a trend where teenagers will reach into the pharmacy cabinet and experiment with pills,” Dowdy said.

Ann Rodio, a project director with the Department of Mental Health, discussed ways the state is helping people deal with opioid addiction.

In order to help people with opioid addiction, the state is holding town hall meetings, conducting community outreach events and has set up a resource website.

Being a peer to someone battling opioid addiction is the most powerful resource a person can have, Rodio said.

“The best thing anyone can do is speak up, we will sit down with you and help you any way possible,” Rodio said. “We are asking for everyone’s help because in order to get rid of this issue, we have to do it together. By helping one person, you will help many others in the long run and just remember that hope is never lost.”

For more information on the Crossroads Recovery Center, contact Crain at 228-863-0091.