DeSoto County hosts town hall to combat opioid epidemic

DESOTO COUNTY, MS (WMC) - Government, law enforcement, and health care leaders from Mississippi are holding a town hall meeting Tuesday to talk about the opioid crisis.

Mississippi ranked 5th in the nation when it comes to opioid prescriptions. Those prescriptions are being abused and people are using the drugs illegally.

DeSoto County is one of the biggest culprits in the opioid epidemic. Investigators said 18 people have died from opioid overdoses in the county already this year.

Experts around the state acknowledge the problem and are holding rallies in an effort to resolve the issue of addiction.

"People have to stop hiding and not talking about it," Department of Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher said.

Fisher said volunteers ranging from medical experts to mental health experts and law enforcement are coming together in search of a resolution. He said one of the problems is "doctor shopping."

"He or she writes me a prescription for the same drug, for the same amount of the drug, and then I go to another doctor and then I go to another doctor and do another thing, because I have such a bad habit," Fisher explained.

DeSoto County Sheriff's Department also plays a vital role by not only cleaning up the streets, but also by using NARCAN kids to save the lives of those who overdose.

"People that we catch in possession or people that are dealing illegal drugs--of course we are automatically trying to catch those people. But when we get the calls of the overdoses, we are trying to do our part to save lives using the NARCAN kit to reverse the overdose," DeSoto County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Alex Coker said.

NARCAN, an opiate antidote designed to save lives, comes in the form of a nasal spray.

"I believe that addiction is a disease. I didn't believe that before. I truly believe that now," Fisher said.

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