Mississippi Drug Abuse
In 2018, Mississippi ranked fourth in the nation for the number of painkiller prescriptions written with a rate of 92 prescriptions per 100 people.
In 2018, 75 percent of all accidental overdose deaths in Mississippi were caused by prescription drugs, including opioids and benzodiazepines.
Most people take painkillers as directed by their physician; however, some might turn to them as a way to get high, which can spawn an addiction. The rising costs of painkiller prescriptions have also caused some Mississippi residents to turn to illegal options like heroin and fentanyl. Because of heroin’s lower cost and wide availability on Mississippi streets, it’s is often the go-to alternative for people who’ve developed addictions to painkillers or other opioids.
Marijuana is cited as the most commonly abused drug for treatment admissions in the state. Other people in Mississippi have sought out and received addiction treatment for the following drugs:
- Cocaine/crack cocaine
Methamphetamine’s presence in the state is another major cause for concern. A bill passed in 2010 changed pseudoefedrin’s status to a prescription drug and the number of meth labs plummeted in the state. Meth use is still an issue for Mississippi, but after the bill meth production slowed down.
Laws Of Mississippi Drug Abuse
An average of 12,000 people are arrested for drug-related crimes each year in Mississippi, including possession, selling, manufacturing or trafficking.
In order for a judge to determine the right sentence for a drug-related crime, each type of drug is categorized into five schedules, which help classify the addictiveness of a substance as well as its accepted medical value. Drugs included in schedules I and II are considered the most addictive and have little to no accepted medical use. In contrast, schedules III, IV and V list drugs that increase in medical value and decrease in dependency potential.
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Drug Possession Penalties
Possessing a scheduled drug without a prescription is automatically considered a felony in Mississippi, no matter how much of the substance you’re caught with. A person could spend up to a quarter of their life in prison and face six-figure fines.
|Drug schedule||Possession amount||Potential penalty|
|Schedules I – II||Less than .1 g||$10,000 fine, 4 years in prison|
|.1g – less than 2g||$50,000 fine, 2 – 8 years in prison|
|2g – 10g||$250,000 fine, 4 – 16 years in prison|
|More than 10g||$500,000 fine and 6 – 24 years in prison|
|Schedules I – IV||Less than 50g||$1,000 fine and 1 year in jail|
|50g – 150g||$10,000 and 1 – 4 years in prison|
|150g – 300g||$50,000 fine and 2 – 8 years in prison|
|300g to 500g||$250,000 fine and 4 – 16 years in prison|
|More than 500g||$500,000 fine and 6 – 24 years in prison|
|Drug paraphernalia||N/A||$500 fine and 6 months in jail|
Penalties For Selling Or Manufacturing Drugs
Mississippi enforces strict and unforgiving fines for selling, manufacturing or trafficking drugs. If the crime involved methamphetamine, a schedule II drug, the fine gets doubled.
|Drug schedule||Potential penalty|
|Schedules I – II||$5,000 – $1 million fine and up to 30 years in prison|
|Schedules III – IV||$1,000 – $250,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison|
|Schedule V||$1,000 – $50,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison|
|Trafficking of any schedule I – V drug||$5,000 – $1 million fine and up to 30 years in prison|
If the possession or sale of any type of scheduled drug in Mississippi happened within 1,500 feet of a school, church, public park or movie theater, the fine and jail sentence of the original crime doubles.
Possessing, selling, cultivating or trafficking marijuana in Mississippi is illegal. Possession penalties vary according to the number of previous marijuana offenses the person has on their record. It’s up to a judge’s discretion to determine exact sentencing, but these are the typical penalties for each marijuana possession offense:
- First-time offense: $100 – $250 fine; 6 month license suspension.
- Second offense: $250 fine; 60 days in jail; enrollment in a drug education program.
- Third offense: $500 fine; 6 months in jail.
If the possession crime involves more than 30 grams of marijuana, offenders can face a $3,000 fine and up to three years in prison. Penalties for marijuana crimes become especially steep when it’s a selling or cultivating offense. Violators caught selling, cultivating or trafficking more than one ounce of marijuana can be sent to prison for up to 30 years and pay a $1 million fine.
Medical Marijuana In Mississippi
The only form of medical marijuana allowed in Mississippi is cannabidiol (CBD), a low-THC oil derived from the cannabis plant. According to state law, the oil must contain no more than 0.5 percent THC and may be used to treat epilepsy.
Addiction Treatment Laws In Mississippi
In recent years, state and federal officials have come to recognize drug addiction as a disease that needs treatment, rather than just a crime that requires punishment. Many states across the nation have adopted harm reduction laws that promote public safety while opening the doors to more treatment options.
Methadone Access In Mississippi
To help treat the Mississippians affected by the state’s opioid prescription drug epidemic, the state provides access to methadone, a drug used to reduce uncomfortable symptoms caused by opioid withdrawal.
Methadone has been used for decades to treat people suffering from an addiction to heroin or narcotics.
When taken as directed, methadone is a safe and effective way to detox from an opioid dependency. It works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to the withdrawal symptoms from drugs like heroin, morphine, and painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone.
Mississippi has a number of locations that dispense methadone to patients. By law, methadone can only be dispensed through a certified opioid treatment center.
Mississippi House Bill 512
In 2010, Mississippi introduced House Bill 512 as a way to address the sharp increase in methamphetamine lab seizures in the state. House Bill 512 requires a prescription to purchase any product that contains pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, which are the main ingredients used to produce methamphetamine. Mississippi is the second state to pass a law requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. In the six months after the law passed, the number of meth lab seizures significantly declined from 115 labs to 31.
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Prescription Monitoring Programs
Mississippi has a prescription monitoring program (PDMP) that tracks the type and amount of prescriptions written through an electronic tracking system.
Prescription drug monitoring programs help practitioners and pharmacists identify possible drug abuse among patients.
The state’s online service lets doctors and pharmacists learn about a patient’s prescription history. If they suspect a patient is abusing prescription drugs, they can intervene and get the patient the help they need. PDMPs have also been beneficial in lessening the number of prescription pills that enter the illegal drug market, as well as reduce instances of doctor shopping (visiting multiple doctors to get more prescriptions).
Treatment Centers In Mississippi
Mississippi’s Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services is responsible for managing and evaluating the state’s substance abuse treatment facilities. Residents suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction have a full range of treatment options that address each part of an individual’s recovery journey:
- Employee assistance programs.
- Individual, group and family counseling.
- Inpatient residential treatment.
- Transitional residential services.
- Outreach and aftercare services.
- Vocational counseling.
- Emergency services, including a 24-hour addiction hotline.
Some centers in Mississippi offer day treatment and specialized services for children, teens, women and senior citizens. Some of these centers do have waiting lists, but preference is given to pregnant women who suffer from addiction.
Should You Travel For Rehab?
Although Mississippi’s rehabs are prepared to handle many types of substance addiction, it’s possible that the treatment for you or your loved one is located out of state. But the distance from home shouldn’t keep you from making such a decision.
Many people have found tremendous success with recovery by opting to travel for rehab.
Traveling out of state or even across the country for rehab offers a multitude of benefits. Those willing to travel for treatment have many more options to choose from, allowing them to be more selective when choosing the center for your situation. It also puts you in the mindset of being on a journey toward recovery.
Some people are concerned about the social stigma that surrounds addiction treatment. They worry about their friends, colleagues or other people judging them for their decision to abuse drugs in the first place. The truth is that addiction isn’t a life choice – it’s a real disease that needs treatment, just like any other illness. However, it’s completely understandable to want privacy when deciding to pursue treatment. That’s why traveling for rehab is a great choice, because it’s far less likely you’ll run into anyone you know while in treatment.
Never be afraid to ask for help with an addiction. Contact a treatment provider to discuss available treatment options.
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
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- CDC (2018) US State Prescribing Rates. Retrieved on October 12, 2020 from: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/maps/rxstate2018.html
- MSDH (2018) Drug Overdose Deaths in Mississippi. Retrieved on October 12, 2020 from: https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/resources/8492.pdf