Mississippi’s drug overdose death rate declined 10% in 2022 after more than doubling over the preceding five years as a coalition of state agencies banded together to tackle the crisis, State Health Officer Dr. Daniel Edney says.
“When I took over last August, I placed it in our top three priorities. Number one being infant and maternal death; number two being diabetes and the impact of chronic illnesses; and number three was the opioid overdose crisis,” he told the Mississippi Free Press on Oct. 4. “Thankfully, what we saw in 2022 was a 10% reduction in death.”
The Mississippi State Health Department, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety have always worked together to combat overdoses, but they specifically teamed up to fight to reduce overdose deaths starting in July 2017 after the Mississippi Opioid and Heroin Drug Summit started the Opioid and Heroin Data Collaborative, Director of the Public Health Pharmacy Meg Pearson said.
The state’s overdose death rate increased from 352 deaths at a rate of 12.1 per 100,000 people in 2016 to 787 deaths at a rate of 28.4 per 100,000 people by 2021, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows. About 700 people died of overdoses in 2022, Edney said, meaning overdose deaths are still about double where they were in 2016. The CDC has not published its official 2022 data yet.
“When you get your first year of improvement, you never know if it’s a sporadic drop or if it’s the beginning of the trend. So, we want to make that trend, obviously,” Edney said.
The COVID-19 pandemic also made drug overdoses worsen across the country, the state health officer said, calling it a “dual epidemic.” More young people started using drugs, particularly opioids, in the pandemic era, Stand Up, Mississippi Outreach Coordinator Charlotte Bryant told the Mississippi Free Press. Her organization is a statewide initiative that fights the opioid crisis.
The CDC funds a federal grant initiative that supports the MSDH’s program ODfree.org, which provides data on fatal and nonfatal overdoses.
“We want people to keep
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