Officials in Mississippi are continuing to raise awareness about prescription drug addiction in the state. According to the State Department of Health, there were 180 opioid - related deaths in the state during 2017. MPB's Jasmine Ellis reports.
Mississippi Republican US Senator Roger Wicker is demonstrating how people can safely dispose medication in a kiosk at a Walgreens in Jackson. Senator Wicker says on average one Mississippian dies per day from a drug overdose and half of those are from opioids.
"We have a problem that we are tackling at the federal level with legislation like the Comprehensive Addiction and [Recovery] Act (CARA)," said Wicker. "But there is only so much you can do at the federal level. This is something that we all need to be mindful of and that we all need to participate in."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, on average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
US Attorney Mike Hurst says Mississisppi has the fourth highest prescribing rate of prescription drugs in the country.
"In the US attorney's office we are prosecuting and will continue to prosecute those who deal in or traffick opioids or illegal drugs, including doctors and medical professionals who violate their oath to illegally prescribe these in exchange for money or other things," said Hurst.
Chris McLaurin is a pharmacist and healthcare supervisor for Walgreens. He says there are things that pharmacists can do to aid in the fight against prescription drug abuse.
"So you broke your arm three months ago yet you're healed and you're still taking it," said McLaurin. "I take it as a personal responsibility to recognize that and have those discussions and just be honest with the patients about it."
Experts are asking Mississippians to safely dispose prescription drugs that they are not using. There are 11 Safe Medication Disposal locations at Walgreens throughout the state.