State agencies working to combat opioid epidemic, issues Narcan spray to MS law enforcement
PINE BELT, MS. (FOX 23) - Governor Phil Bryant announced Thursday that all sworn-in state law enforcement will be issued Narcan to counter react opioid overdoses.
Narcan is drug that reverses the effects of opioids and revives an individual from an overdose state.
State officials say they are looking for new ways to combat the opioid epidemic on a state and national level.
Governor Phil Bryant along with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN), Commissioner of Public Safety, and the Department of Mental Health have a comprehensive plan that hopes to decrease the opioid crisis in Mississippi.
“Prescription pain killers dispensed in the state of Mississippi last year...every breathing, living person in the state could have had a bottle with about 70 pills each" says MBN Director John Dowdy.
He added, “This particular epidemic is different than any drug crisis that we had to face.” According to Dowdy the vast majority of opioid drugs circulate in communities legally. Part of fighting the war on opioids is training sworn-in state law enforcement officers on Narcan.
It is not just for the drug users, but to protect officers too. “MBN coming into contact with something like fentanyl is increasing every day."
"So us being equipped with that (Narcan) is basically us having something like a bullet proof vests" says Dowdy.
A counter reactant drug is not just the answer. Health care professionals suggest in the plan that part of the solution is managing opioid prescriptions.
“Acute non-cancer pain, 3 days of opioids should be dispensed, but certainly no more than seven" he says.
Part of the plan is to establish crisis intervention centers and incentives for employers who hire those working to recover from addictions.
Dowdy says, “The one thing that they need is stability in their life and to have an employer who is willing to hire that recovering addict and allow them to work and have stability in their life goes a long way in their recovery efforts.”
Another section of the plan is to hire more people for the State Crime Lab. According to Dowdy there are not enough employees working to process cases.
He says, “We had three medical examiners on staff at the state crime lab last year, they did between the three of them 1,700 autopsies. The nation average is 250.”
"Law enforcement can’t do their job until we get confirmation that this is in fact cocaine or that this is in fact heroin. We cant show cause of death until the autopsy is completed" Dowdy says.
State officials are urging the public to join the opioid war. “I guarantee you that when it happens to you, that when its your sister, or your brother, or your mother that finds themselves addicted to opioids I think a lot of people will start looking at that differently.”
Officials hope this new comprehensive plan on fighting the war against opioids will make a difference, but most importantly save lives.