Meridian town hall meeting focuses on opioid crisis

By  | 

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Mississippi's per-capita rate of painkiller prescriptions is one of the highest in the nation. It's become a crisis across the state, and now lots of agencies are coming together to try to put a stop to it.

The Department of Mental Health, the Department of Public Safety, the Bureau of Narcotics, the Board of Pharmacy, and the Mississippi offices of the FBI all teamed up to host a town hall meeting in Meridian Tuesday night. They all gathered at Meridian Community College's Tommy Dulaney center, along with local officials and professionals, to talk about the misuse of prescription drugs and what can be done to help those who have been impacted.

"We're traveling around Mississippi holding these town hall meetings to do two things," Angela Mallette from the Mississippi Targeted Opioid Project explains. "One, educate the community on opioids and the crisis that we're seeing in Mississippi and also to talk to people about treatment options that are available,"

Officials say treatment is one of the biggest issues right now, and there are ways that those in need can get help locally.

"We have various levels of treatment," Mary Lyons from Weems Community Mental Health Center says. "We have a primary in-patient residential. We have an out-patient program. Anybody that calls inquiring about services won't have to give their name right off the bat. They can just give general information, and we can direct them into the right service area. Once somebody comes in, all of our services are completely confidential."

This meeting is one of a series of town hall meetings across the state that are open to the public.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day, 46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers in the U.S. In Mississippi, there are 120 painkiller prescriptions per 100 people.