Mississippi officials are putting a new treatment in officers' hands that they hope will reduce the number of deaths by overdose. MPB's Alexis Ware reports.
Mississippi state troopers will soon carry Narcan, a nasal spray drug that helps reverse the effects of opioid overdose. The move is recommended by the Governor's Opioid and Heroin Task Force. Governor Phil Bryant says it's important to treat opioid addiction like a disease.
"The individual that is addicted the individual that will be treated by these first responders with Narcan is someone that we should treat as if he was having a heart attack as if he or she had been involved in an automobile accident. We will be responding law enforcement will be to save their lives."
A federal grant is funding the statewide distribution of the drug. Each box has two doses and costs about 71 dollars.
The state Department of Mental Health reports in Mississippi one out of every ten people misuses prescription drugs. Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher says joining forces with mental health professionals could help combat opioid abuse.
"In the old days we saw somebody that was intoxicated or high we just locked them up now we've got to think about how to train officers and find some assets to direct some of these people not all of them because people commit other crimes while they're intoxicated or while their high but we can direct some of these people to get treatment and we want to train our officers in that regard to show them what the resources are."
Versions of this drug will be available without a prescription at Walgreens, CVS and Kroger pharmacies across the state.