PEARL RIVER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A company with experience in drug rehabilitation offered to build a clinic in Pearl River County to help stop opioid abuse and addiction, but people who live in the county are refusing to accept help from the company.
Crossroads Treatment Center runs 42 rehab clinics in 9 states throughout the country. The proposed location in Carriere would be the first location in the state, but people in the county are refusing to roll out the welcome mat.
"We want to help people, but we don't need this in our town," said Allen Hickman.
Hickman says the main reason people don't want to the center is because it practices "medication-assisted treatment," which means the facility plans to use medications such as methadone, and suboxone to treat and wean people off their drug dependency.
"There are many other ways to get people off of a drug. We don't have to just get them addicted to another drug," Hickman said.
According to data from the Mississippi Department of Health, Pearl River ranks in the top five for counties with the most overdose deaths last year. People in the county see the need for rehab, but they would rather see it come in another form.
The Crossroads website says the centers also offer drug screenings, recovery skills, and counseling in addition to medication-assisted treatment.
In January, the Mississippi Department of Health granted Crossroads a certificate to open on Carrie Mitchell Road in Carriere.
Construction was delayed in April when the county's Board of Supervisors decided to enforce a 1999 ordinance that prohibits rehab centers, halfway homes, and similar facilities from operating in the county. That action prompted the Crossroads company to file a suit against the county.
"All of our law enforcement are against it. They understand what it's doing and what it's done to people," added Hickman.
Many of the county supervisors are listed by name in the lawsuit, and the county sheriff, David Allison, is cited with saying "the facility will only lead to more crime and increase the existing drug problem."
A town hall meeting is scheduled for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Resurrection Life Church. People are expected to be very vocal about keeping the facility out of their community. They say nothing will change their minds.