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Overdose deaths involving fentanyl on the rise in Mississippi

529 people died in Mississippi from overdose in 2020.
529 people died in Mississippi from overdose in 2020.(wlox)
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 10:01 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 10:17 PM CST
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SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - According to the CDC, drug overdose deaths have reached an all-time high. From June 2020-June 2021, the CDC reported more than 100,000 Americans died from a drug overdose.

Mississippi is also dealing with this growing problem.

“We lost 529 Mississippians in 2020 to drug-related overdose deaths,” said Col. Steven Maxwell.

Maxwell is the director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. According to him, fentanyl was the most common drug used by overdose victims. Nationally over the last year, DEA seized more than 9-million illicit pills containing fentanyl.

“Of these 9.5 million pills, four out of ten contained a lethal dose of fentanyl,” said Maxwell. “That’s about 2mg and DEA says that’s about 10-20 granulates of salt. So you had a four of ten chance of dying as a result of someone using those pills as tested by DEA.”

Many of those pills are designed to mimic other drugs including pharmaceutical-grade opioids.

Maxwell said Mississippi is vulnerable to illegal drugs being shipped into the state. South Mississippi leads the state in fentanyl overdoses, according to a DEA agent.

“The way that our state is geographically located, we have the I-10 corridor that runs south, I-55, I-59, Hwy. 49 is a major thoroughfare, we have really good rail and waterway systems and we have a lot of rural airstrips. So that makes our state ripe for the importation of bulk amounts of illicit drugs.”

Like statewide and nationally, the Coast has also seen an increase in overdose deaths attributed to fentanyl.

In 2018, Harrison County only saw a handful of deaths related to the illicit drug. Fast forward three years and that number has drastically increased.

2018: 32 drug deaths, 4, of those included fentanyl

2019: 40 drug deaths, 8 of those included fentanyl

2020: 57 drug deaths, 22 of those included fentanyl

2021: 67 drug deaths, 48 of those included fentanyl

Two-thirds of the overdose deaths nationally were caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Cocaine and methamphetamine accounted for the rest of the deaths.

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