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DeSoto County officials host town hall meeting to spread opioid abuse awareness

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. -- They’re startling statistics: Prescription drug abuse has gone up over 400 percent in the past decade, according to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

Officials also say some of the scary details in these numbers is the number of young people abusing opiates and heroin.

On Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., representatives from the Department of Mental Health, FBI, Bureau of Narcotics and more are holding a meeting at the Landers Center in Room 1 to try and fight the growing numbers.

They plan to talk about the epidemic and how it may be a lot closer than you think to hitting your loved ones.

Carol LeMay says her niece’s drug addiction started after she was involved in a bad car wreck.

“They put her on prescription pain meds because they had to do several reconstructive surgeries," said LeMay.

But when the doctors stopped the refills, she says her niece’s body craved more. She turned to buying pain pills off the streets, but the expensive prices ultimately drove her to heroin.

It’s a story that’s becoming all too common in DeSoto County.

“If it’s not somebody in your family, it’s somebody next door.”

Which is why representatives from across Mississippi and DeSoto County are hosting the town hall meeting.

It’s a chance for the community to get educated on the realities of prescription drug abuse and the people you may not know it’s affecting.

“Kids as young as 13 are dying.”

In fact, DeSoto County authorities say it’s now easier for teenagers to get prescription drugs than it is for them to get a beer.

LeMay spreads awareness through her group “Wings of Hope DeSoto County” and hopes Tuesday’s meeting can also help keep one less person from overdosing.

The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics reports nearly 500 drug overdoses in Mississippi last year with the large majority of those being opioid-related.

If you know anyone who’s struggling with addiction, you can call 1-800-662-HELP.