Mississippians are doubling their efforts to turn in unused prescription drugs according to DEA agents. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports, they would like to see the number continue to grow.
According to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, 97 Mississippians died from opioid-related drug over doses last year. In the first three months of 2017, MBN reports 35 deaths. Trost Friedler is with Harbor House Chemical Dependency Services outside of Jackson in Bryam. He says opioid abuse in the state is increasing, along with access to pills like Dilaudid and Oxycontin. Friedler says it's not uncommon for people to steal them.
"You don't know what the exposure is where somebody may, you know workmen, somebody may come into your house and the first thing their checking is your medicine cabinet," said Friedler.
Daniel Comeaux is with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Jackson. He says those addicted to pills often turn to heroin. To help combat the problem. Every six months DEA sponsors a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. People can turn-in unused prescriptions to their local law enforcement office to be disposed of properly. In April, Mississippians turned in more than 4,100 pounds of pills, twice as much as last fall's event. But the count was less than other states in his division. Arkansas topped the list with more than 24,000 pounds collected.
"We're feeling really good about the State of Mississippi. Obviously there's a way to go. We can continue to do better and turn in more and hopefully we will next time," said Comeaux.
Trost Friedler says the DEA program is helping to keep pills off the streets.
"I think they're great. I think people need to understand they're vulnerable to be stolen," said Friedler.
The next National Prescription Drug Take Back Event is in October.