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2014 Drug Trends 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 report. Mississippi is not adequately equipped with enough treatment centers to handle the influx of admissions, but the state is working very hard to get programs into place.

What drugs are most commonly abused in Mississippi?

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. It is estimated that the number of meth labs in the state has increased over 334% within less than 10 years. The flow of high grade heroin into the state has also increased as well. Cocaine and crack cocaine remain more expensive and harder to acquire on the street, which is one of the reasons that they are being left behind when people are choosing their drugs to abuse.

Where are the drugs coming from?

Marijuana, crack cocaine, cocaine and heroin are all originated out of Ohio, or from points south. There is also a significant flow coming out of the distribution points in New Jersey. It is hard for law enforcement officials to intercept these drugs as they will come via water, as well as overland. More of a concern is the rising trade in methamphetamine. Meth labs allow for the drug to be created on site in Mississippi. While TV would have you believe it takes a large amount of chemicals to cook meth, the truth is that it doesn’t. This hampers police efforts to use tracking of chemical ingredient purchases to help prevent the growth of meth labs. The other issue is that creating a meth lab is not expensive, if the person needs to abandon one to avoid being arrested, they will do so without a moment’s hesitation and have a new one set up within days.

What is the impact on Mississippi of illegal drugs?

Mississippi has gone from having almost no noticeable rate of deaths from overdose or drug related accidents 25 years ago to a rate that is almost comparable with the national average. One of the greatest concerns about the growing drug abuse within the state is that it effects the youth and young adult population. As this population enters maturity, the potential costs of care for them from complications caused to their physical and mental health through drug addiction will provide an additional strain to the state system that may not be born well by the budget reservoirs.

What about illegal prescription drug use?

There is some illegal prescription drug use in the state, but it is not at the levels that many other states are experiencing. The growing preference for the cheaper highs of both meth and heroin promise to hold any significant prescription drug abuse at bay. This does not translate to preventing a rise in synthetic drug use, as has happened in other states. The so-called “legal” highs are gaining a following in the state and are proving to be very hard to regulate or criminalize.

Are drugs getting better or worse in Mississippi?

Mississippi’s long standing low rate of drug abuse and addiction may be the factor that allows it to recover from the rising trends and to reclaim their reputation as a drug free. The fact that they do not have an explosion of new treatment centers may also work to their advantage. The existing centers are more familiar with the state culture past, and can recognize its changes. They can do much to pave the way for new centers to come in with advanced treatment and intervention programs that will be effective from day one. With increased education within the community, the meth labs can also be restricted from many areas, making them easier to track and dismantle as well. The more that all the resources for drug prevention work together, the better chance Mississippi have of keeping their drug use rates low.

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