Last year, 211 people in Mississippi overdosed on drugs many from opioids. A journalist who wrote a book about the opioid epidemic is in Mississippi to raise awareness about the crisis.
Author and journalist Sam Quinones has written a book about the opioid epidemic called "Dreamland." He's in Madison, at Broadmoor Baptist Church, to talk about the crisis and it's history. Quinones says the problem began in the 1990's. He explains for more than 20 years since then, doctors have prescribed opioids like Oxycontin because drugs companies said they were safe. Plus, he says people were demanding a quick fix for pain. "
"Part of that manifested itself in our approach to our bodies and health and wellness and pain. And we began to say, I don't want to have to work hard to be well," said Quinones.
When access to prescriptions dry up, people buy pills on the street until they become too expensive. Then they turn to heroin a cheaper opioid. Many overdose. Quinones says it's the only drug epidemic he's aware of that's uniracial; 90 percent of those impacted are from white communities of all educational and economic levels. He says raising awareness about the dangers of opioids has been hampered by what he calls the deafening silence of those effected by the drug addiction.
"People in the middle class, primarily white people, did not want people to know about this. So, the very people whose stories might have been most potent in galvanizing public attention were the folks who were quiet," said Quinones.
Now, Mississippi state agencies such as the attorney generals office and the department of mental health are hosting summits like the one that begins today in Madison, to educate people about opioids. Families are starting to speak out so they can help others survive the epidemic.
Opioid and Heroin Drug Summit, July 11-13, in Madison: http://drugsummit.com/