Mississippi takes its name from the great river that makes up its circuitous, winding western border. The Mississippi River is also tied up with the jobs, agriculture and lives, even the very history of this southern state. Long the main “highway” through America, it is still a main means of transportation for cargo through the heartland of the country.
While many legitimate manufactured goods make their way up and down the river every day, Mississippi is also a thoroughfare for less savory products. Drugs manufactured in South America and other foreign lands often land on the Gulf of Mexico and make their way through the United States via this and other southern states. It’s no surprise, then, that the people of Mississippi are still dealing with some major drug problems.
Mississippi Drug Use Facts
The state of Mississippi is experiencing the following with drug use and addiction:
- Mississippi is one of the top ten states for 12 to 17 year olds abusing painkillers to get high.
- 6.95 percent of Mississippi residents use illegal drugs on a monthly basis. This is actually lower than the national average of 8.82 percent of Americans using illegal drugs.
- The numbers of Mississippi residents that die as a direct result of their drug use is also slightly lower than the national average. In Mississippi, 11.7 people out of every 100,000 die from drug use, but the national average is 12.8 per 100,000 people.
Drugs of Abuse in Mississippi
The most commonly used drugs in Mississippi are:
- Marijuana use in Mississippi has dropped for several years in a row. The number of Mississippi residents being admitted for drug rehab treatment for marijuana had dropped to just over 20 percent as of 2011.
- Cocaine and crack have been dropping precipitously for many years in terms of usage rates. After a high of the drug accounting for over 60 percent of all treatment admissions in 1995, the drug now accounts for only about 15 percent of all treatment admissions.
- Heroin has continued to not make much of an impact in Mississippi. The drug has continued to account for only a few percentage points of all treatment admissions for much of the last twenty years.
- One category of increased drug usage has been meth. After a few years of slightly lessened admission rates, meth has now crept back up to about 10 percent of all drug treatment admissions.
- Prescription drugs are also on the rise and now account for about 15 percent of all drug treatment admissions.
What is Mississippi Doing to Handle the Drug Problem
Mississippi drug courts offer second chances.
In Mississippi the undertone of the justice system regarding drug courts is to help improve people’s lives by making them accountable rather than sending them to prison according to officials. Drug courts have grown 76% and the participants have escalated from 1,821 to 3,300. Despite the increase, the funding for drug courts has not changed since for nearly a decade. The drug courts are nearly half way away from being fully funded. Mississippi’s incarceration rate is the second highest in the country only behind Louisiana. It has been said that the cost to house an inmate in state prison is upwards of 41.50 per day.
Drug court systems give participants a chance to be accountable for drug related crimes, become productive, and not become incarcerated in turn being a part of a growing figure. Drug court case participants are drug tested two to three times a week for their monitoring and are required most times to attend classes to work towards a high school equivalency degree or to keep employment. They also attend long and short-term rehabilitation program. For non-violent first time offenders a chance for rehabilitation, accountability, and monitoring seems to be a better latter than incarceration with little chance of being able to be employed because of a criminal record.
Mississippi Drug Treatment & Addiction Help Resources
WhiteHouse.gov: Mississippi Drug Control Update – http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/state_profile_-_mississippi_0.pdf
Blog.Gulflive.com: Mississippi Drug Courts Growin’ – http://blog.gulflive.com/mississippi-press-news/2013/11/mississippi_drug_courts_growin.html