The opioid overdose epidemic in Mississippi started in the late 1990s with a dramatic increase in deaths from prescription opioids. This epidemic continues today, driven by overdose deaths from synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl.
Properly prescribed, opioid medications and stimulants can be effective — but like any drug, they can also be abused. Whether produced legally or illegally, just a small dose can be deadly in the right circumstances.
MSDH's Opioid and Substance Use Disorder Program works to prevent overdose deaths in Mississippi and end the drug overdose epidemic in the state.
Naloxone (Narcan) can reverse an overdose from opioids. It's free by request from your pharmacist or by mail. Naloxone can reverse an overdose from opioids, including heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioid medications. You don't need to visit a physician or medical provider to keep this emergency medication on hand. Your pharmacist will provide a prescription by request, or you can have the Mississippi State Department of Health mail a naloxone kit directly to you at no cost. If you or someone you know is at an increased risk for opioid overdose, you should carry naloxone and keep it at home.
The Opioid Overdose Epidemic
In just a year – from 2019 to 2020 – Mississippi drug overdose deaths increased by 49%, and deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl more than doubled.
Deaths involving amphetamine stimulants increased by 77%. Overdose deaths involving more than one drug increased by six times between 2011 and 2020.
Nationally, more than 932,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose. 70% of overdose deaths involved illicitly manufactured fentanyl.
Who Is at Risk
- Males: The proportion of male overdose deaths has been increasing. In 2020, nearly two-thirds of overdose deaths were among males.
- Younger Mississippians: Fatal drug overdoses in people under the age of 35 nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020.
- African Americans: The proportion of overdose deaths among African Americans has been steadily increasing since 2011.
What You Can Do
Prevent Access to Your Drugs
Store prescription drugs securely. Keep track of how much of each prescription you should have, and keep drugs in a locked medicine cabinet if possible.
Dispose of medications properly once treatment is completed. You can take unused drugs to a pharmacist or disposal site, or follow safe disposal steps at home.
Act Quickly in Case of Overdose
- Call 911 as soon as possible.
- Give naloxone (Narcan) if it's on hand.
- Keep naloxone ready if you or someone you know may be at risk of an overdose.
Get Help and Get Informed
There's educational information and help available from state and national sources.