“Far too many Mississippi families and communities have suffered the devastating effects of opioid and heroin use disorder,” said Diana Mikula, executive director of DMH. “Governor Phil Bryant and other state leaders have demonstrated a strong commitment to ending this crisis in our state by supporting coordinated efforts to provide prevention, education, and treatment options throughout the state.”
In early 2017, Governor Phil Bryant convened a task force of professionals from the healthcare, legal, medical, dental, and law enforcement sectors to develop a comprehensive plan to address the opioid crisis. In response to the findings and recommendations of the task force, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, Mississippi Department of Public Safety, Mississippi Board of Pharmacy, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Mississippi Department of Human Services, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Drug Enforcement Agency began working on multifaceted, proactive solutions to reduce the negative impact of opioid use disorder in the state.
“We recognized early on that we could not arrest our way out of this problem. We knew we had to use a different approach with this issue,” said Commissioner Marshall Fisher of Department of Public Safety. “We have been intentional about educating citizens, training law enforcement and medical professionals, and providing secure drop boxes where people can safely dispose of their unused prescription pain medication.”
According to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, there have been over 250 reported opioid overdose deaths in the state in 2017. This number surpasses the total overdose deaths for 2016. “We are calling on other agencies, nonprofit and community groups, faith-based organizations, the medical community, and individuals to help us stem the tide of opioid use disorder in our state. The first step is learning more about the devastating effects of these highly addictive drugs,” said Michael Jordan, State Opioid Treatment Authority at DMH. “Addiction is a disease. Anyone, no matter their background, can become addicted to opioids, including Mississippians who receive a legitimate prescription from a medical provider.”
“We believe we can have a huge impact on individuals and communities with this campaign, but if we are truly going to make a difference for Mississippians, we must strengthen the policies and practices that are put in place to protect people and save lives,” said Steve Parker, deputy director of the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy. “The same type of collaboration between agencies that has resulted in this campaign can be used to work across sectors and industries to end this staggering opioid crisis.”
The Stand Up, Mississippi campaign is funded through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). As part of the campaign, DMH and its partners have launched a comprehensive resource website (www.standupms.org) that includes educational information about opioids, where to find treatment centers across the state, information about drop box locations, and other resources. The grant also provides funds for DMH to provide the lifesaving drug naloxone to law enforcement agencies.
“We hope to inspire Mississippians to work together to build healthier communities by understanding the dangers of opioids, learning the signs and symptoms of addiction, and finding out about treatment for themselves or people they know who may be suffering,” said Mikula.
For more information on Stand Up, Mississippi, contact Angela Mallette at 601-398-4406 or visit www.standupms.org.
About Stand Up, Mississippi
Stand Up, Mississippi is a statewide initiative to end the opioid crisis and inspire all Mississippians to work together to create a stronger and healthier future. The primary goals of this comprehensive effort are to improve public perception of people dealing with substance use disorder, strengthen policies for prevention and treatment, and promote statewide partnerships to combat the opioid crisis in Mississippi.
This project is a collaborative effort by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, Department of Public Safety, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Mississippi Board of Pharmacy, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mississippi Department of Human Services, and Drug Enforcement Agency. Funding is provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.