A Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics investigation came to a close last week with the arrests of nearly 50 people, and more warrants still to be served.
MBN Director John Dowdy said of these arrests, a majority of the suspects were street dealers who were selling opioids.
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“We mostly saw hydrocodone and oxycodone,” said Dowdy. “They were selling it on the streets.”
The two are normally used for treating chronic pain, back injuries, and for pain management after surgery. But as the opioid epidemic has spiraled out of control across the state, addicts are turning to the painkillers for a high–and the number of overdose related deaths has skyrocketed within the last five years.
The epidemic has been building for a long time, according to Dowdy.
“These pharmaceutical companies, they released these drugs with very little research,” said Dowdy. “But what we’re seeing is not only are they over-prescribed, but they are highly addictive.”
Last year, according to MBN, there were so many opioids prescribed that every man, woman, and child in Mississippi could have had 70 dosage units.
“Depending on the personality, it doesn’t take long to get addicted to these pain killers,” said Dowdy. “We’ve seen studies where seven days of continuous use is enough to build an addiction.”
If the user has struggled with addiction before opioids, then the habit could form faster.
“We are seeing that people are starting to understand what we’re dealing with here,” said Dowdy. “Word is starting to get out how dangerous this is.”
Dowdy said that law enforcement officers have a message for those peddling the opioids on the street.
“I hope you’re losing sleep at night, and I hope you’re looking over your shoulder. You might as well turn yourself in, because we’re going to catch you. It’s that simple.”
This week, MBN will be hosting a summit to help educate the public on the dangers of opioids.