First opioid summit in state held in Oxford

Published 11:37 am Sunday, April 7, 2024

More than 170 addiction medicine, social services and law enforcement professionals attended the first opioid summit in Mississippi, hosted by Baptist Memorial Health Care Center of Excellence in Addiction Medicine and MississippiCare.

The Mississippi Opioid Summit, held at the Oxford Conference Center, promoted best practices among the recovery community to help address the opioid epidemic in Mississippi and throughout the United States. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch was the opening speaker, and Dr. Stephen Loyd gave the keynote address with additional sessions offered for clinical workers, law enforcement, and prevention and recovery specialists.

Fitch, who unveiled her awareness initiative, “One Pill Can Kill,” in 2023, said Mississippi lost 258 people in 2023 due to fentanyl overdoses.

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“The opioid crisis is here in Mississippi and our country,” she said. “We have to rally together. We have to fight this crisis, and we have to use everything we can. We’re here talking today about how we can empower one another and provide tools and resources. It’s all about saving lives. We all have a part of this action plan to save lives.”

Other speakers included representatives from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and others working in the addiction medicine sector.

Steven Maxwell, director of MDPS, talked about the evolution of the drug culture, showing pictures of what appears to be candy, but is instead, potentially dangerous drugs that attract a younger clientele.

“This is the marketing and branding of today’s drug culture,” Maxwell said. “And this is what causes you to cringe when your children leave home; when they go off to college, because inadvertent substance use disorder, inadvertent exposure to Fentinol and various other synthetic opioids, leads to drug addiction, drug overdose. And death is much more likely today than ever before.”

Sessions explained how to recognize and understand the role of healthcare providers in supporting individuals who use recreational drugs, identify stigma reduction and harm reduction principles, patient-centered approaches to care and the importance of ongoing support and aftercare during recovery.

In 2022, the Baptist Center of Excellence in Addiction Medicine collaborated with MississippiCare to identify post-acute, follow-up care for patients with opioid use and/or alcohol use disorder in Mississippi.

“I am pleased Baptist Center of Excellence in Addiction Medicine and MississippiCare have worked together to host the first Mississippi Opioid Summit in Oxford,” said Brian Welton, CEO and administrator of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi. “This is an important issue for our community and the country, as opioid overdoses continue to increase year after year. Through our combined and concerted efforts, we can respond strategically and identify long-term solutions that can have positive results and help our communities heal.”