WLOX - President Obama has proclaimed Sept. 18 - 24 Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.
As the government tries to crack down on high intensity drug trafficking, law enforcement - and even doctors - are fighting the fight in south Mississippi.
Ryan Hearn is quite familiar with the heroin and opioid epidemic.
"We've become more comfortable, I think, in society with taking opioids for just minor pain," said Hearn. "So now what we've caused is a generation of addiction."
Hearn, who is captain of the Harrison County Sheriff's Narcotic Unit believes heroin use is on the rise because the high that users get from prescription drugs is similar.
"Heroin is much easier to get and it's cheaper. So if I'm paying $30 a pill for an oxycodone on the streets, I can get a small amount of heroin that can do the same thing for $5 - 10," said Hearn.
One south Mississippi doctor took extreme measures to help combat the problem.
"I recently gave up my narcotics license so I could tell people that I couldn't do it," said Dr. Ronald Krueger. "I was bothered not only by patients, but by personal friends always wanting a little prescription for something."
Having been in the medical field for decades, Krueger remembers a time when prescribing an opioid for pain was rare; which is why he is now prescribing less addictive narcotics.
"I see no reason to treat minor pain or pain that's only going to be present for two or three days with high dose, or even low dose, opioid," said Krueger.
Krueger says he tells patients looking for opioid refills that ibuprofen is just as good for relieving pain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi has 120 prescriptions for pain pills per 100 people.