USDA, Missouri leaders address opioid epidemic in Missouri

4 weeks 11 hours 31 minutes ago Wednesday, April 25 2018 Apr 25, 2018 Wednesday, April 25, 2018 1:50:00 PM CDT April 25, 2018 in News
By: Tyler Emery, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA — One out of every three Missouri families is now affected by the opioid crisis. This fact drove the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lead a roundtable discussion Wednesday with more than 30 leaders in Missouri.

Participants ranged from Missouri state department leaders, law enforcement agencies and health care providers.

The main speakers were: 

-Dean Linneman, the Director of the Division of Regulation & Licensure for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

-Timothy Rudder, with the Missouri Department of Mental Health

-Eric Swan, the Lead Counsel on Opioids for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office

-Sgt. Shawn Griggs, the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Drug and Crime Division

Griggs showed that in 2016, one out of every 66 deaths in Missouri was due to heroin or opioid overdoses. Statistics show 908 Missourians died from opioid overdoses that year.

"We can't arrest our way out of the opioid epidemic," Griggs said. 

Linneman agreed, and said the main focus for Wednesday's discussion was how many departments within the state can come together to address the issue. 

"The opioid epidemic is a nationwide problem. Missouri has not escaped that," Linneman said. "It's going to take the entire state and resources available through the other state departments to help put a dent in the problem."

Other panelists touched on the difficulty for those living in rural Missouri to seek help. 

Karen White is the CEO of Missouri Highlands Healthcare located in rural southern Missouri. The facility serves seven of the most rural counties in the state. 

"The individuals that come through our doors are train wrecks," White said. "The struggles are really hard because the resources aren't there."

White said many of the individuals their rural clinics treat turned to opioids because they couldn't afford other forms of pain treatment. 

"I really do think that had they been given equal opportunity to seek other care to treat their pain, they would have taken those over taking a substance such as an opioid," White said. 

A lot of the roundtable participants said they believe one of the best solutions toward addressing the issue in Missouri is awareness and education.

Boone County will be participating in a nationwide effort this weekend for "National Perscription Drug Take Back Day." The locations and times of take back sites are shown below.

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, April 27, 2018:

  • Harry S. Truman VA Hospital
    • 800 Hospital Drive, Columbia, Mo.
  • University of Missouri Student Center
    • 2500 MU Student Center, Columbia, Mo.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, 2018:

  • Ashland Police Dept.
    • 109 E. Broadway, Ashland, Mo.
  • Centralia Police Dept. Lobby
    • 114 S. Rollins, Centralia, Mo.
  • Hallsville Police Dept.
    • 202 Highway 124 East, Hallsville, Mo.
  • Hickman High School
    • 1104 N. Providence Rd., Columbia, Mo. (north entrance)
  • Rock Bridge High School
    • 4303 S. Providence Rd., Columbia, Mo. (north entrance)

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