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Missouri continues battling opioid epidemic despite programs meant to help

The opioid epidemic continues in Missouri despite initiatives focused on prevention, treatment and recovery.

The state had 952 overdose deaths involving opioids in 2017, according to the National Institue of Druge Abuse.

"We've made some good progress but we are still seeing overdose deaths increase," said Claire Wood, an assistant research professor at the University of St. Louis.

In 2018, opioid overdoses rose to 1132 reported deaths, Wood said.

She said access to treatment and the overdose reversal drug, naloxone, are extremely important in fighting the opioid crisis.

Grants through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) help fund opioid addiction treatment, naloxone and other resources in Missouri.

Wood said it's important to find other funding methods besides grants to ensure programs continue over the long term.

"We don't know if the State Opioid Response will be continued," she said. "Right now, that's paying for treatment for a lot of people."

Funding from the SOR grant is expected to run out in Sept 2020, Wood said. The grant has provided Missouri $46,314,104 in funding over two years.

Wood said due to limited funding, she often hears about treatment centers being at capacity.

"I am referring specifically publicly funded programs," she said.

Cyndi Tandy, a Jefferson City mother, lost her son in March while he was on a wait list for a treatment center.

"Four, five, six month waiting lists, and even then you're not guaranteed to get in," Tardy said. "In the meantime, for my son, he died."

She said she wishes there was more help available for people seeking treatment.

"The waiting list is tremendous in Missouri, I mean I had him check everywhere," Tandy said. "Or it's extremely expensive for your average person."

Tandy is a member of a support group, Families Anonymous, for people with loved ones who struggle with addiction.

She hopes to take the experience of losing her son and help give advice and support to other parents in the group.

"If we can as a group bond together and help each other through it that's pretty amazing," she said.

Families Anonymous meets at 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday at Living Hope Church in Jefferson City.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri
drug overdose
support group

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Jasmine Ramirez

Jasmine Ramirez covers areas including Cole and Callaway counties and Jefferson City for ABC 17’s evening broadcasts.


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