Hartzler starts Drug-Free Missouri initiative

Related Story

COLUMBIA - Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., is starting a new anti-drug initiative. The Drug-Free Missouri program includes a variety of resources to prevent drug addiction and help people who are addicted to drugs get help.

"It’s time to unite and take action against this menace to set a new path for individuals and families in our district—one that is drug-free," Hartzler said in a statement in the Drug-Free Missouri online tool kit.

According to the tool kit, about 465,000 Missourians who are more than 12 years old have used an illicit drug in the last month. The tool kit also contains information on recovery or "drug" courts, student drug-use prevention groups, and recovery programs.

Steve Walsh, Hartzler's press secretary in Columbia, said the program will also entail assemblies at schools to stop kids from getting addicted to drugs early and meetings across Hartzler's district with stakeholders.

Walsh said this program isn't necessarily about legislation for Hartzler. It focuses more on giving resources to the people who can help out, like police chiefs and county commissioners.

"It's not so much legislation as it is trying to help out, as they are trying to deal with this terrible problem, and see if there's a way that we can help them deal with the problem," he said. 

Although this initiative is new, Walsh said he knew addiction and drug abuse couldn't be solved overnight.

"I just hope that we can make a dent in this. I know the congresswoman wants to see that something can be done to deal with this problem," Walsh said. 

Walsh said Missouri is no longer known as the state with the biggest meth problem, but it is still a pressing issue in the state. He said drug abuse has been an ongoing issue across the country for years. 

"It's devastating families. It's devastating children," said Rick Rowden, Primrose Hill Teen Challenge's development director.

Primrose Hill Teen Challenge is a unique drug rehabilitation center in mid-Missouri that allows mothers using its services to live in the house with their children. Rowden said Hartzler has supported the program in the past.

"Vicky has actually been to our home," Rowden said. "I think in her particular case, she's gone a little deeper."

He said the tool kit on Hartzler's website could help many people because there are thousands of homes where children are living with addicted mothers. 

"It's a very comprehensive awareness campaign that she has launched," Rowden said.