By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
Alcorn County was among the top 15 counties in Mississippi in terms of the number of times an opioid overdose reversal drug was given in nine months last year, a state report says.
Emergency medical services data show that the life-saving drug naloxone was administered 27 times in Alcorn County from Jan. 1-Sept. 30, 2017. Alcorn County ranked No. 15 out of 82 counties in the state. (A list of the top 15 counties and a statewide map are below).
Harrison County on the Gulf Coast had the most naloxone administrations during that time period at 215, the Mississippi Opioid and Heroin Data Collaborative report said.
Neighboring Tippah County had 17 naloxone administrations; Tishomingo County 10; and Prentiss 9, the report said.
Lee County, which includes Tupelo, was among the top five in the state with 46 EMS naloxone administrations while Union County, which includes New Albany, had 30.
Statewide, naloxone was given 1,564 times in the first nine months of 2017.
Mississippi, which has a population of close to three million people, had 2.5 million opioid prescriptions dispensed from January to September of last year, the report said. Each quarter there was a reduction in the number of opioid prescriptions, with the third quarter being 6 percent less than the first.
An opioid poisoning can lead to respiratory depression and cardiac arrest, and naloxone can reverse an overdose, officials say. Corinth and Alcorn County law enforcement have been equipped with naloxone to potentially save the lives of overdose victims.
Moreover, naloxone can also protect first responders if they accidentally come into contact with the highly powerful opioid fentanyl, which can be 50 times more potent than heroin. An officer who accidentally touches or breathes fentanyl could die, officials say.
Alcorn County Sheriff Ben Caldwell and Corinth Police Chief Ralph Dance both expressed concerns this week that the community could see an increase in fentanyl and heroin. A recent report from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raised similar concerns.
The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics handled 41 heroin cases in 2015; 82 in 2016; and 76 in 2017, the agency said. Those were only the cases that MBN was involved with, and there could have been more handled by other agencies.
Likewise, MBN had six fentanyl cases in 2015; three in 2016; and six in 2017.
Addicts build a tolerance to prescription painkillers, and some users switch to heroin, which is less expensive, Caldwell said. He is concerned that the area could see more fatal heroin overdoses.
The 15 counties with the most EMS naloxone administrations, January-September, 2017:
1. Harrison (Population: 201,410): 215 naloxone administrations
2. Hinds (Population: 242,891): 181 naloxone administrations
3. Rankin (Population: 149,039): 85 naloxone administrations
4. Desoto (Population: 173,323): 59 naloxone administrations
5. Lee (Population: 85,300): 46 naloxone administrations
6. Madison (Population: 103,465): 45 naloxone administrations
7. Hancock (Population: 46,420): 45 naloxone administrations
8. Bolivar (Population: 33,322): 40 naloxone administrations
9. Lauderdale (Population: 78,524): 39 naloxone administrations
10. Pearl River (Population: 55,191): 32 naloxone administrations
11. Jones (Population: 68,215): 31 naloxone administrations
12. Union (Population: 28,429): 30 naloxone administrations
13. Forrest (Population: 75,944): 29 naloxone administrations
14. Lowndes (Population: 59,710): 28 naloxone administrations
15. Alcorn (Population: 37,388): 27 naloxone administrations
(Source: Mississippi Opioid and Heroin Data Collaborative)