Mississippi State Department of Health

Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse


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.

Links referenced
About the Program    http://msdh.ms.gov/page/44,0,382,61.html
How we're working to end Mississippi's opioid crisis    http://msdh.ms.gov/page/44,0,382,61.html
Overdose Help    http://msdh.ms.gov/page/44,25058,382.html
What to do in case of an overdose, and how to prepare    http://msdh.ms.gov/page/44,25058,382.html
More about naloxone and how to get it    https://odfree.org/get-naloxone/
CDC Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain    https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/rr/rr7103a1.htm?s_cid=rr7103a1_w
More about fentanyl and other overdose drugs    http://msdh.ms.gov/page/44,25057,382.html
Report: Trends in Mississippi's Drug Overdose Deaths    http://msdh.ms.gov/page/44,0,382,740.html
More about safe storage and disposal    http://msdh.ms.gov/page/44,0,382,824.html
Full details: What to do in case of an overdose    http://msdh.ms.gov/page/44,25058,382.html
How to get naloxone    https://odfree.org/get-naloxone/
Resources for overdose prevention and substance use disorders    http://msdh.ms.gov/page/44,0,382,86.html

Find this page at http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/index.cfm

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