Summit takes on prescription drug abuse in Mississippi - - The News for South Mississippi

Summit takes on prescription drug abuse in Mississippi

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Once the bottles are filled, the drugs inside have the ability to become more than what they were intended for.

"This is not just a public safety issue anymore, it's a public health issue as well. We've got the second fastest growing drug problem in the United States of America," said executive director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Marshall Fisher.

Fisher says 95 percent of drug overdose deaths in Mississippi are from the abuse of prescription narcotics. Last month alone, more than nine million doses of Hydrocodone were dispensed in the state. With a population of only about three million, Fisher says that's a problem and it's lending itself to increased abuse.

"With prescription drugs it some how legitimizes it because it's in a prescription bottle, it's got a label on it, there's a pharmacy's name, a doctor's name and it doesn't have the same stigma as going into an ally way or street corner and buying a bad of dope from some thug," said Fisher.

Fisher says the abuse, from those with or without legal prescriptions, is also leading to criminal activity. That was the scene Monday night inside a Petal pharmacy as thieves broke in, racked up and took off with all kinds of prescription drugs.

A collective effort is now underway from various agencies across the state that has folks discussing drug diversion problems and evaluating prevention strategies. That was the focus behind the Prescription Drug Summit which was held Wednesday in Jackson.

"It's something that we can stop and we need to address it as a high priority in our state," said U.S. Attorney for Mississippi's Southern District, Gregory Davis.

Davis says criminal activity isn't the only side effect. Deaths are rising, and more and more babies are being born with complications and having to be treated for withdrawal syndromes. That's all because of a system, which Fisher says, was meant to help.

"There are legitimate drugs out there for legitimate reasons but if they're not used for their intended purpose the level of addiction is unbelievable," said Fisher.

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