Area leaders: Opioid crisis is here

Published 11:53 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2017


NATCHEZ — A Natchez alderwoman Tuesday spoke to an urgent need for a town hall meeting in the midst of an opioid crisis plaguing the country, including the Miss-Lou.

During her report at Tuesday’s regular aldermen meeting, Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Irving said doctors issued approximately 36,855 opioid prescriptions in 2016 within Adams County, citing figures she obtained from the state. Considering Adams County’s estimated population of approximately 31,248, these figures mean an average of nearly 1.2 prescriptions written per person.

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Some patients obviously may receive multiple prescriptions for the painkillers during a given time period.

A few members in the audience gasped or exclaimed in shock when Irving read out these numbers.

“There is a need to address opioid(s),” Irving said. “I want the mayor to work with the board so that we can see about getting this to take place here.”

Irving said addressing opiates would in turn help to deter some crime in the community.

Vicksburg held its own town hall meeting regarding this matter in late September, and Irving said she feels Natchez must do the same.

The alderwoman is not alone in her concern. Last week, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten spoke before the Adams County Board of Supervisors and gave his two cents on the crisis.

Patten specifically mentioned the drug Fentanyl — an especially potent and quick-acting opioid, which he said is on the rise.

“It’s already here to be honest with you, and all it’s going to take is one individual down here to take one of those pills and die within 20 minutes, and then it’s going to be a reality for everybody in this county and this state,” Patten said.

The sheriff said his office had to dedicate a deputy solely to handling this issue.

“It’s a costly thing for us as well, because we had to provide a whole other body to keep up with it here in Adams County,” Patten said. “That’s all that deputy does is strictly follow prescription pills and the opioid things.”

The prevalence of opioids is overt throughout the state, based on the data Irving presented.

Both Wilkinson and Franklin counties also average about 1.2 opioid prescriptions per person. Others, such as Marion County, average a staggering 1.9 prescriptions per person.

The city has yet to announce when or if the town hall meeting will take place.