The opiate epidemic sweeping across America is a threat to Mobile citizens. Although prescription opiates are a godsend for patients with severe pain, in 2015 the CDC reported that opioids – including prescription opioids and heroin – have killed more than 33,000 people, which is more than any year on record. In the same year, 730 Alabamians died from drug overdoses.
Fortunately, overdose deaths in the Mobile area aren’t as high as those in North and Central Alabama. Yet Mobile is a target for these illegal drugs because the economics are too good for drug dealers to resist.
“Mobile must act now to inform all citizens about the danger,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said. “The addictive power of opiates builds a constant stream of desperate customers for drug dealers.”
The Mobile Police Department calls attention to the danger with the Just One Fix campaign. The Mobile County Health Department, Drug Education Council and Lamar Outdoor Advertising have partnered with the Mobile Police Department to communicate the dangers and life-saving facts.
“One fix of illegal opiates can cause death due to of the high purity of today’s heroin and other illegal opiates,” said James Barber, executive public safety director. “They are incredibly addictive and deadly.”
Barber explained that the partnerships with organizations outside of law enforcement are vital to confronting this challenge.
“Partnerships pay off for citizens because they provide services that go beyond the traditional responsibilities of police, and are invaluable in preventing crime before it happens.”
Through the generous contribution made by Lamar Outdoor advertising, 12 billboards have been placed throughout the city of Mobile with the targeted message – Get Life-Saving Facts. The billboards direct citizens to https://www.mobilepd.org/onefix/, which includes a video showing individuals in treatment as well as counselors who at one time were addicts.
Tom Sirmon, regional manager for Lamar Outdoor Advertising, said the billboards will yield 880,000 impressions weekly. That is 3.5 million impressions a month, which means 91 percent of the population will see the Just One Fix message an average of 12 times.
“If you have a problem with drugs or have a family member with a problem with drugs, please reach out for help,” said Virginia Guy, executive director of the Drug Education Council.
The Drug Education Council offers a Chemical Abuse Prevention Program and a Voluntary Anonymous Juvenile Drug Testing to help parents encourage their children to stay drug free as well as individualized or family counseling available to anyone dealing with the trauma of addition.
The Mobile County Health Department advocated for and petitioned the Board of Health to make Naloxone available to those who need it in the event of an overdose. It echoes the CDC’s recommendation to practice conservative prescribing of opiates and that they should only be prescribed as a last resort. Health department officials encourage physicians to educate patients on the additive nature of the medication and urge the public to proper dispose of opiates that are unused.
Mobile patrol officers will have business cards with the Mobile County Health Department and the Drug Education Council contact numbers that they will give to individuals who may need help.
“We share a unique diversity and benefit from growing opportunities,” Chief of Police Lawrence Battiste said. “All of us have a stake in making Mobile the safest city in America with respect for everyone.”
“Every citizen can help keep the scourge of heroin and illegal opiates out of the Mobile area. Watch the video and share the facts about illegal opiates and the services available to help those addicted.”