Fentanyl threat in Mississippi amplified by alarming data

Published 3:25 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2023

OXFORD, Miss. – The ongoing drug crisis in Mississippi, underscored by a 145% spike in overdose deaths from 2014 to 2021 according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been brought into sharp focus by a recent urgent notice from the Lafayette County Metro Narcotics Unit regarding fentanyl overdoses.

The Fentanyl Factor

The CDC’s troubling statistics highlight the state’s escalating drug issue. By 2021, Mississippi reported an unprecedented 787 drug overdose deaths, outpacing its record of 586 deaths in 2020. These figures are even more stark when considering the rising menace of synthetic opioids, with fatalities from such substances, including the deadly fentanyl, marking significant increases in 2020. 

A 145% increase means something doubles and then increases by another 45%. That is a considerable increase. In 2014, the CDC reported 11.6 deaths per 100,000 in Mississippi were drug overdoses. By 2021 that had increased to 28.4 per 100,000 deaths.

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Adding to these concerns, the Lafayette County Metro Narcotics Unit has issued a dire warning about a surge in overdoses over the past week, pinpointing fentanyl as the culprit. Particularly troubling is the distribution of counterfeit “Perc 30s” pills that, unbeknownst to users, are laced with fatal doses of fentanyl.

A Warning from the Lafayette County Metro Narcotics Unit

The unit’s statement emphasizes the grave situation at hand. “We are deeply concerned about the recent overdoses,” the release notes. “The emergence of fraudulent ‘Perc 30s’ pills containing dangerous amounts of Fentanyl is alarming. While they may appear genuine, they can be deadly.”

Mississippi’s predominantly rural layout further exacerbates the drug problem. With fewer drug treatment and prevention resources available, residents in these areas face increased risks associated with overdose.

Addressing the Fentanyl-Driven Crisis

Addressing this multifaceted crisis involves a multidimensional approach: more accessible drug treatment, heightened public education on synthetic opioids, and the broader availability of naloxone, a life-saving opioid antidote.

Communities must remain highly alert, avoid non-prescribed substances, and promptly report suspicious activities to local authorities.