In 2009 the number of gun-related homicide deaths outnumbered heroin deaths by more than five to one.
But last year, heroin actually killed more people nationwide than guns according to the Centers for Disease Control".
"It's mind-blowing to realize that many people are affected by it," Christopher Risner with Families for H.O.P.E. said.
It's not easy to solve the widespread abuse of heroin and prescription drugs.
"You have to understand what the triggers are,” Mike Hirst with Andy’s Angels said. “You have to understand how the drug works. You have to understand where it's coming from- so we've got to come at the thing from every angle possible."
One of those angles is taking the drugs off the streets. But even cracking down on the dealers isn't enough to stop the problem.
“This is such a huge issue that we're not going to arrest our way out of the situation,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka said. “Or prosecute our way out- it's just one component."
A major step in the process is on the medical side. Heroin and prescription drugs go hand in hand. That's why doctors are taking steps to protect patients from future addiction.
"Instructing patients under the risk of the medications when you need to start them on something,” Dr. Rami Khoury said. “And then prescribing to them appropriately on the health care side."
But what about the people who are already addicted?
"You know you can't force them into a hospital stay,” Risner said. You can't force them into rehab. But we can educate them on what's available as far as treatment goes."
"Education's the key," Hirst said.
One of the next steps in Jackson is to find somewhere recovering addicts can stay.
"We don't really have any housing where we can just get somebody off the street, that's ready to quit, right into the housing,” Daniel Smith with Families for H.O.P.E. said. “We don't have that."
They may not have that, but everybody's got a medicine cabinet. And a good way to put a stop to this is getting rid of old prescription drugs.
"Get them disposed,” Hirst said. “We've got facilities all over the city where you can dispose of them properly."
All of these measures will hopefully put an end to this epidemic.
If you want to help end the epidemic visit andysangels.net
Or you can visit Families for H.O.P.E on their Facebook page.