State agencies and law enforcement are joining forces to combat Mississippi's opioid epidemic.
51-year old Aden Giles is a former nurse. She drank as a teen and later became addicted to cocaine and crack. Eventually the married mother of three was confronted with her son's addiction to Meth, opioid pills and later heroin. Aden says she went to treatment and has been clean for two years. Her son sought treatment multiple times. She says he had been clean for six months before he died of an overdose of Fentanyl, a potent opioid he thought was heroin. Now Aden shares their stories to help other families.
"I'm very open about it. I want to get it out. I want the stigma to go away because as long as we have the stigma, people are going to want to hide and isolate and not discuss it," said Giles.
The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics reports over the past four years, 563 Mississippians have died of drug overdoses. Eighty percent are opioid-related. Michael Jordan is with the state department of mental health.
"We write enough in Mississippi and rank 5th in the number of prescriptions written for opioids. So each person in Mississippi can have 70 in their pocket," said Jordan.
Attorney General Jim Hood says, there's a false sense of security because doctors prescribe opioids for pain.
"When they get hooked and then eventually the doctors will realize they're on it and they'll cut them off and then they'll turn to heroin," said Hood.
Hood says the epidemic crosses all racial lines, income brackets and ages. A three-day Opioid and Heroin Summit takes place next week in Madison. http://www.ago.state.ms.us/msdrugsummit/
Jim Dowdy, with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics says Governor Phil Bryant has created an Opioid Drug Task Force to provide recommendations to combat the growing epidemic.