January was a difficult month for drug overdoses in 10 Mississippi counties, according to the Mississippi Opioid and Heroin Data Collaborative.
In the counties of DeSoto, Coahoma, Lafayette, Marshall, Panola, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica and Yalobusha counties, 67 overdose-related visits to emergency rooms were reported in the first month of 2023. Another 37 events requiring ambulance or paramedic services were reported.
The Collaborative reports that overdoses are now the leading cause of death among U.S. adults ages 18-45. The opioid epidemic in particular has taken a profound toll in Mississippi in relation to overdose deaths, economic impact and behavioral health.
The spike in overdoses has caused the Mississippi Public Health Institute to issue an alert urging residents to be vigilant about drug activity and take action to prevent overdoses and save lives through the Make Mississippi OD Free initiative.
“We’re letting area residents know there are tools and resources they can use to put an end to overdose-related deaths in our communities,” said Melody Madaris, executive director for area mental health provider Communicare. “By arming themselves with facts, they can learn how overdoses happen and take steps to prevent themselves or their loved ones from becoming tragic statistics.”
The Make Mississippi OD Free website provides strategies for avoiding drug abuse and overdoses, including prevention and treatment.
Mississippians may request naloxone be mailed directly to their homes at no cost by clicking on this link. Naloxone blocks the brain’s opioid receptors and restores normal breathing in people who have overdosed on fentanyl, heroin or prescription opioid painkillers. Its temporary blocking effect allows time for professional medical attention to be sought.
“Through grassroots efforts such as prescription drug take-back days, Make Mississippi OD Free aims to get more Mississippians involved in ending the overdose epidemic,” said Jan Dawson, program director, Mississippi Public Health Institute. “The website at https://odfree.org was designed specifically to address overdose prevention in our state and serves as a resource to raise awareness, build connections and provide solutions.”
Make Mississippi ODFree is a multi-agency statewide partnership focused on overdose data collection and overdose prevention and intervention. Administered by the Mississippi Department of Health in partnership with the Mississippi Public Health Institute, the program is supported by a federal grant initiative funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program’s purpose, called Overdose Data to Action (OD2A), is to collect comprehensive and timely data on nonfatal and fatal overdoses to inform OD prevention and response efforts nationwide.