Opioid crisis rears head in Scott County

By TIM GETER,

The Opioid crisis in Mississippi as of January 2017, the lastest statistics just released, had caused 247 deaths as reported by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics according to Capt. Brad Ellis, Narcotics Officer of the Scott County Sheriff’s Department.

Opioids are substances that act on opioid receptors to produce a morphine like effect. Opioids are primarily used for pain relief. However, over time opioids such as Hydrocodone and Norco have been the leading substances that have caused this crisis not only statewide but also in Scott County. According to Ellis, on several occasions during the course of the year, “we have served warrants recovering several different illegal drugs whether it be meth or marijuana we seem to always come across Hydrocodone and Norco, because it all goes hand in hand.”

The most dangerous thing about Hydrocondone and Norco is, its scientifically produced. “Whereas other drugs may be cut with other substances in order to produce more product, Hydrocodone or Norco is not cut so therefore you are getting the full amount of the narcotic which is prescribed,” Sheriff Mike Lee said. “Which can lead to overdose quicker if not used properly.”

Last year there was a law that went into effect that if two or more Hydrocodone tablets were found without a prescription it would be a felony. “The pills need to be accompanied with its prescription bottle and on the possession of the person its prescribed too,” Lee said.

These drugs do not discriminate. There is no certain class of people in the county that may have a problem with these opioids. “These pills can be within reach of the lower class and the higher class, there is no discrimination when it comes to these certain narcotics,” Ellis said.

As the law addresses these narcotics, pharmacists and medical facilities have to send in the prescription within hours after prescribing certain narcotics such as Hydrocodone and Norco. According to the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy there is a system in place to track and manage these narcotics. The system is called The Mississippi Prescription Monitoring Program (MS PMP) it is an electronic tracking program managed by the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy to aid practitioners and dispensers in providing proper pharmaceutical care relating to controlled substances. It also serves as a tool for regulatory agencies and authorized law enforcement to identify potential inappropriate use of controlled substance prescription medication.

So as the law gets tougher in many ways is a good thing, however, in the eyes of law enforcement it may be the beginning of something worse. The street value of Hydrocodone and Norco has gone up, “These pills are running at a street value of $8.00 and as high as $10.00 for one pill,” Ellis said.

So as Hydrocodone and Norco along with many other narcotics are getting harder to access, there is another drug that has made its way through Scott County that could be much easier to access. “There have been cases involving heroin here in the County,” Lee said. According to Lee and Ellis not only is it just heroin but many are lacing the drug with Fentanyl. Lee also said that heroin is a very dangerous drug and the fact that some are lacing the drug with fentanyl that makes it even more dangerous. “These people producing the heroin that we are seeing are not scientist so unlike Hydrocodone and Norco, Heroin may be cut with other materials — for reasons of more supply — that could cause death,” Ellis said.

Ellis concluded by saying that if residents have hydrocodone, Norco, or any other narcotics in their medicine cabinet and do not know what to do with them then they can bring the prescriptions to the sheriff’s department and the pills will be disposed in a proper manner through the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.