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Do your part to stop opioid abuse

This week is Prescription Opioid and Heroin Awareness Week, a cause that might seem far removed from our lives, but is actually much closer than we think.

Mississippi has the fifth-highest opioid use rate in the country, a statistic only amplified by the fact that prescription painkiller companies have contributed more than $366,000 to Mississippi candidates since 2006, along with hiring an average of 18 lobbyists a year in the state to promote their policies.

Opioid abuse and heroin use often go hand in hand, accounting for the majority of the nearly 3,000 overdose deaths in Mississippi from 2006 to 2014.

The problem is not limited to Mississippi and there are programs and monitoring systems in place to crack down on prescription abuse.

Those programs can’t account for those who obtain the medication illegally – either from a friend or family member, or buying them on the street – and can be the catalyst for opioid abusers to make the transition to heroin when they can no longer get a prescription.

Though the problem is complex, there are ways we can help combat it in Mississippi.

If you’re taking pain medication, ensure you and your doctor have a pain management plan. Store medication in a secure place in your home to prevent easy access. And finally, ask your pharmacist about how to probably dispose of any unused medication.

Small steps, maybe. But important ones in the fight to reduce opioid abuse.