Mississippi offering drug addicts free help to get clean

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — People addicted to narcotics in Mississippi can get free help to stop using the drugs through a statewide initiative.

Angela Mallette, an outreach coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, said Stand Up Mississippi has received a $14 million grant to continue assisting addicts for another two years. The initiative offers free recovery stays and follow-up help to make sure, Mallette said, "those in recovery can transition to healthy and productive lives."

Malette said the grant is the initiative's second from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration since 2017.

The Sun Herald reports the program will keep providing naloxone, known as Narcon, to first-responders for use in drug overdoses. The program also will continue medication-assisted treatment, which provides free medicines to help recovering addicts deal with withdrawal symptoms.

The program also soon will offer a telemedicine option for recovering addicts who live in rural areas without doctors authorized to write prescriptions for those medications, "which don't make you high," Mallette said. People in Natchez, for instance, would be able to speak with a doctor in a telephone conference to discuss prescriptions, she said.

Mallette said the state's opioid problem is not as bad as in some other states. A total of 256 drug overdose deaths were reported in 2017, according to Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director John Dowdy. About 74 percent of the deaths were attributed to opioids, he said.

Anyone in Mississippi can receive free drug treatment regardless of where they live in the state, with more details available by calling 1-877-210-8513 or visiting www.standupms.org .

___

Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com