Addiction in Gulfport, Mississippi
Situated on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Gulfport is the second-largest city in the state of Mississippi. The picturesque town’s white sandy beaches and renowned seafood make Gulfport a popular destination for tourists. However, drug overdose deaths and substance abuse rates in the area have been on a steady incline over the past few years. Much of the substance abuse in Gulfport is due to prescription opioids and illicit drugs, particularly meth.
The Opioid Crisis
Mississippi ranks 5th in the United States for most opioid prescriptions dispensed per capita, dispensing enough for each resident to have about 70 pills in 2016. Between the years 2013-2016, there were 563 overdose deaths in Mississippi, and approximately 481 of those deaths were due to an opioid drug. Opioids are a classification of drugs that are derived from, or a synthetic version of, opium. Many prescription pain management medications are opioids, making them easily accessible, despite the fact that they are extremely addictive. The most common opioids involved in overdoses in Mississippi include:
To fight against the growing opioid epidemic, Mississippi launched the Stand Up, Mississippi campaign and the Mississippi Prescription Monitoring Program to help keep track of controlled prescription drugs to minimize potential for abuse, diversion, and addiction. There are currently 5 different safe prescription drop-off locations for unused or expired opioids located throughout Gulfport.
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Meth Abuse and Trafficking in Gulfport
Meth is the second-leading cause of overdose deaths in Mississippi, behind only opioids, and 60% of all drug treatment programs within the state cite a high prevalence of meth abuse among admissions. Gulfport is a city that particularly struggles with meth, as 42% of drug rehabilitation admissions in Harrison County (which includes Gulfport) were for meth abuse. Meth is an extremely addictive and potent illicit drug that is often easier for people with a lower income to obtain than other drugs like prescription opioids or heroin. Meth is especially devastating to the community because of the adverse mental and physical effects it produces.
[Meth users] go on binges where they won’t eat or sleep, and they take the drug for several days in a row. Anything that interferes with that drug use is almost a threat to survival. That includes taking care of children or going to work – it threatens the ability to get this high again.
It was originally thought that the 2010 bill that passed a ban on the sale of pseudoephedrine (the primary ingredient in the manufacture of meth) without a prescription would resolve the issue of meth within the state of Mississippi; however, methamphetamine abuse rates have remained much the same. Although the number of meth labs have decreased, meth is still a huge threat due to the high amount of drug trafficking in the area. Mexican cartels filled the state’s supply and demand need for meth with a more potent and purer form of the drug. Gulfport is an ideal location for drug smuggling and trafficking, as it is an easy access site for Mexican drug cartels by being located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of kilos of meth have been found within Mississippi and throughout the Gulfport region over the past few years, which have been the product of Mexican drug cartels and super labs.
In response to the growing trafficking issue in the surrounding areas of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, the Office of National Drug Control Policy created the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative to reduce illicit drug availability and eliminate drug trafficking organizations in the region and beyond. The biggest drug threats identified in the Gulf Coast HIDTA include meth, crack cocaine, and heroin. The Gulf Coast HIDTA supports five drug task forces and one training initiative in Mississippi. The task forces, working in the Gulfport, Jackson, Pascagoula, and Oxford areas, target the most significant drug trafficking organizations operating in Mississippi. In 2010 alone, the Gulf Coast HIDTA task forces disrupted or dismantled over 35 significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the state.
Substance Abuse Statistics for Gulfport
47.9% of Harrison County adults reported alcohol use in the past 30 days.
2.5% of Harrison County residents admitted to increasing their prescription drug use without a doctor’s order in the past 30 days.
In Harrison County, 14.4% of residents reported binge drinking within the past 30 days.
Addiction Treatment in Gulfport
One of the most important steps in recovery is making the decision to move forward from addiction and seek out a sober lifestyle. If you’re someone struggling with addiction in the Gulfport area, there are multiple inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation options available to you. Gulfport is served by the Harrison County Health Department in which public mental health treatment services are provided through state-run facilities, regional community health centers, and non-profit community-based providers. If you’re ready to end your battle with addiction, contact a dedicated treatment provider to find out which treatment option is best for you.