Addiction in Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson is the capital of Mississippi and the most populous city in the state, with an estimated 166,965 inhabitants. Known for its rich history and soul-music culture, Jackson is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state that surprisingly has high rates of substance use disorders. Mississippi has the highest prevalence of youth and adult substance use of all 50 states, and Jackson has the highest percentage of adult hospitalizations for substance use disorders of all of Mississippi.
The Opioid Epidemic in Jackson
Prescription drug abuse is now the fastest-growing drug problem in the nation. Jackson is evidence of this national epidemic, as opioid addiction rates are higher than ever and have been steadily rising within the city over the past few years. Opioids are drugs that release powerful surges of dopamine in the brain, which creates a sense of euphoria. Even those who take the medication as prescribed can become addicted in just one use. Many prescription painkiller medications are opioids, making them easily accessible to the majority of the population, despite the fact that they are extremely addictive.
During 2017, over 3.3 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed in Mississippi, which is higher than the number of residents living in the state. On average, over half a million pills were dispensed every day in Mississippi this past year. Correlatively, opioids were listed as the primary substance of abuse for 55.4% of all rehabilitation treatment admissions in Jackson in 2017. Hinds County (which includes Jackson) also had one of the highest numbers of overdose deaths (30) and Naloxone administrations (243) in 2017 out of all of Mississippi.
In light of the alarming statistics, Mississippi recently amended its Emergency Response and Overdose Prevention Act to allow pharmacies to provide life-saving, opioid-related overdose drugs, such as Naloxone, without a prescription. Additionally, Mississippi has developed a comprehensive plan to address prescription drug abuse by including multiple drop-off locations throughout the state for proper disposal of unused, unneeded, or expired medications. Providing individuals with secure and convenient ways to dispose of controlled substances has proven to help prevent opiate diversion and abuse. Jackson currently has five safe prescription drug drop-off boxes accepting unwanted or unused opioids placed around the city.
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Rising Rates of Heroin Addiction and HIV
In addition to prescription opioid misuse, Jackson is also struggling with rising rates of heroin abuse. Heroin is a highly-addictive illicit opioid drug that is processed from morphine. Heroin can be smoked and snorted, but is most commonly injected into veins, muscles, or under the skin. People who engage in heroin use or high-risk behaviors associated with heroin use put themselves at risk for contracting or transmitting viral infections such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis. This is because when people inject drugs and share needles or other drug equipment, an uninfected person comes into contact with the infected blood of another and the virus spreads through bodily fluids. Additionally, drug use impairs judgment and people may expose themselves to the disease by having unprotected sex with an infected partner.
Heroin use and addiction have been inseparably linked with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the HIV epidemic. According to the CDC, as of 2015, Hinds County has the highest rates of people living with diagnosed HIV, new HIV diagnoses per 100,000, and HIV prevalence per 100,000 out of all of the counties in Mississippi. Such a statistic can partly be attributed to the heroin prevalence within the city; Jackson had one of the highest heroin-related hospital admissions in all of Mississippi in 2018.
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Youth Substance Abuse in Jackson
Data collected about drug use among Mississippi teens show that fewer teens are abusing drugs like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, but the use of prescription opioids and inhalants is rising. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 6.79% of 12-17 year-olds and 10.36% of 18-25 year-olds in Mississippi abuse prescription pain relievers. The most commonly abused drugs among youth in Hinds County include Vicodin and Oxycontin. Additionally, an annual average of about 21,000 adolescents aged 12–17 (8.8% of all adolescents) in 2015 used alcohol in the past month. Among adolescents in Mississippi enrolled in substance use treatment in a single-day count, 39% were in treatment for both drug and alcohol problems.
This influx in youth substance abuse can partly be attributed to the economic climate of Mississippi. As the poorest state in the nation, Mississippi faces greater challenges than many other states to prevent/combat mental illnesses and disorders. Only 11.3% of youth with severe depression in Mississippi received some sort of treatment. Depression and substance use disorders have a high percentage of co-occurrence in teens and adolescents, as many turn to alcohol or drugs as a means of self-medication. In an effort to reduce youth substance abuse in Jackson, the Hinds Behavioral Health Services is providing children and youth educational presentations across the county at no charge.
Getting Treatment in Jackson
Addiction does not have to control your life; there are multiple resources and facilities available to help those struggling with addiction. If you or a loved one is in dire need of healing from substance abuse in the Jackson area, a treatment provider can help you find the best facility with your needs in mind. There are numerous inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers within the city of Jackson that offer crisis intervention services, vocational counseling, withdrawal management services, and detox. Don’t wait any longer, talk to a dedicated treatment provider today.