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An Overview of Addiction in Mississippi

For decades Mississippi enjoyed being one of the 10 states with the lowest incidences of drug use and abuse, even of alcohol. Over the past decade this has changed radically with 6% of the population currently reporting that they have abused drugs within the past year. While Mississippi has not reached the national rate of 8% reporting drug use in the past year, it is gaining swiftly on that figure.

While alcohol and marijuana have always been the staple drugs of Mississippi, it is the recent adoption of heroin and meth that is causing drug use to spike so quickly. While cocaine and crack cocaine are also present, the rates of their use are far outpaced by the speed with which meth and heroin use is growing.

Quick Facts on Substance Abuse in Mississippi

  • Mississippi is a major drug hub. Drugs are smuggled in from Texas and Mexico and are not only sold within the state but also throughout the Midwest and the eastern part of the country.
  • Mississippi is the sixth highest state per capita in painkiller prescriptions, and ninety-five percent of drug overdose deaths in Mississippi are from the abuse of prescription narcotics.
  • In Mississippi, opioid prescriptions are recorded in the Prescription Monitoring Program, now being used by physicians and law enforcement to help determine if a patient is engaged in “doctor shopping,” the practice of getting prescriptions at the same time from multiple physicians.
  • Now that prescription medications are more difficult and expensive to attain, many painkiller abusers are turning to heroin, which is cheaper and readily available on the street.
  • While Mississippi surpassed the national average in illegal drug use just after Hurricane Katrina, it hadn’t seen a spike in heroin like the other states until now.
  • Between 2009 and 2011, heroin overdose deaths remained at one per year in Mississippi, according to death certificates collected by the Health Department, but have risen to 13 deaths in 2015 so far.
  • Cocaine is used and readily available in every part of the state including both the bigger cities and rural areas. Most cocaine enters Mississippi from Mexico.
  • Marijuana is the drug that is used most in Mississippi. However, the amount of people receiving treatment for the addiction or abuse of marijuana is fairly small.
  • Medical and recreational cannabis are outlawed in Mississippi, but the federal government has been growing their own supply of marijuana in the state for over 45 years.
  • Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson counties all reported the highest binge drinking rates for both men and women.
  • Madison County, boasting one of the highest income levels in the state, had the highest percentage of residents reporting having had a drink in the past month.

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