The U.S. Surgeon General is in Mississippi to hear what state officials are doing to combat the opioid crisis. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams brings home the impact of the nation's opioid epidemic by talking about his own family. He says his younger brother was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing 200 dollars to support his addiction.
"Started off with unrecognized and untreated mental health issues, then he self-medicated with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, then he went to a party and someone gave him a pill," said Adams.
Adams says every 12.5 minutes someone in the U.S. dies from an opioid overdose. In 2016, 352 people overdosed in Mississippi. He's at the University of Mississippi Medical Center to hear how state officials are fighting the problem. Governor Phil Bryant and state agency officials talked about collaborating on efforts like town halls meetings, monitoring prescriptions online and increasing prescription requirements. Dr. Randy Easterling is with the state medical licensure board.
"We're not telling physicians they can't prescribe opioids when they're necessary medically or surgically. What we're saying is before you do that you need to get some information on your patient. You need to run a PMP, (prescription monitoring program) you're going to have to do some point of service drug testing three times a year," said Easterling.
Adams applauds the partnerships but wants prescriptions reduced with more alternatives to pain management. He's also wants people to keep naloxone, the drug that reverses overdoses, on hand. Adams showed the governor how to use the naloxone spray and inject the drug.
"You just push it and it injects that mist into the nose and that is how easy it is actually for anyone to save a life," said Adams.
Mississippi passed a law that allows people to obtain naloxone without a prescription.