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Joint meeting to focus on opioid abuse at Oxford Conference Center

With opioid painkiller abuse and addiction on the rise, several law enforcement agencies are hosting a town hall meeting Tuesday that will focus on ways the public can help beat the growing threat.

The Opioid Town Hall Rally will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Oxford Conference Center and is being jointly held by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, along with the Oxford Police Department and other state and local law enforcement agencies.

During this event, a panel of representatives from across the state and local community will talk about opioid abuse and what people can do to help reduce the death and destruction caused by opioid addiction.

“We have seen a steady increase in the abuse of opioids over the last year 10 years and we are now seeing heroin in the area,” said OPD Chief Joey East.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as prescription opioids are becoming harder to find in bulk amounts as they were a few years ago, some who were addicted are turning to heroin. An estimated 4 to 6 percent of people who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin and about 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.

In Mississippi, 1 in 10 people misuses prescription drugs. Prescription drug abuse has surged 400 percent in the past decade and more teens say it’s easier to get prescription drugs than to buy beer, according to DMH.

“The abuse of opioids is a national epidemic that is facing our nation,” East said. Everyone I know has someone in their family that is being affected by this. It will take all of us working together to solve this problem. I would encourage anyone that can attend and learn as much as you can. Maybe what you learn can save a life or help a friend.