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Fighting back against opioids

We learned a startling statistic this week from the Opioid Town Hall meeting held at the Oxford Conference Center.

More than 201 million dosage units of opioid drugs were dispensed in Mississippi in 2016.

We felt sure that was a mistake, with less than 3 million residents in the state. But no, the exact number was 201,224,298 dosage units of opioids dispensed in Mississippi. In one year.

These are prescription drugs prescribed for pain, but opioids are among the most addictive drugs available. That addiction often drives users to the street drug heroin because it is cheaper and easily accessible.

That’s why we have what government and law enforcement officials are terming as an opioid crisis in the state.

We agree.

Officials say 80 percent of heroin users started with prescription opioid use. Nationally, drug overdose deaths attributed to opioids soared to more than 50,000 in 2015 and the problem is getting worse.

We appreciate the State Department of Mental Health, the Lafayette County Bureau of Narcotics and local law enforcement officials taking the time to hold a town hall meeting in Oxford to educate us more about the problem.

We know that no challenge is too big, but we have to understand the challenge to do something about it. Now is the time for Mississippi to fight back against opioid abuse. And town hall meetings like this make for a good start.