Heroin Overdoses on the Rise in Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY - State health officials said Monday heroin overdoses are on the rise in Missouri. In 2011, 244 people died due to a heroin overdose. Compared to the 69 deaths of the same cause in 2007, that number more than tripled. While overdoses may be on the rise, it is hard to tell if heroin use is.

"We see trends. Sometimes it's cocaine, marijuana, right now it's heroin and it's unfortunately resulted in a lot of overdoses where some people have died," Jefferson City Police Captain Doug Shoemaker said. "It's hard to tell how many people are using, but we can see from the overdose numbers that it is problem."

Jim Marshall, a retired track and field coach at Jefferson High School, lost a son to what he calls the heroin "epidemic." Cody Marshall was 20 years old when he died on September 27, 2011. "I got home not too long after his friends dropped him off while he was overdosing. I found him slumped over the couch...not breathing. I performed CPR until he could get to the hospital."

Unfortunately, oxygen wasn't reaching Marshall's brain and he died that day at St. Mary's Health Center.

Jim Marshall now participates in the Heroin Overose Prevention and Education Campaign, or H.O.P.E, where he tells his son's story. "People always come up and ask me how they can thank me. I want to ask them how I can thank them. It's like a therapy session. It's my grieving process," Marshall said.

Marshall and the Jefferson City Police Department believes education is key. Along with the H.O.P.E program, the department also created "Heroin...a Dead End" campaign. Police officers go to middle and high schools around the area giving talks about the consequences of doing heroin.

Jefferson City Schools spokesman David Luther said although we don't know if heroin use is on the rise, it is always good to be proactive. He said there hasn't been any disciplinary problems regarding heroin but has faith in the police department when they say heroin is a problem.

So far this year, there has been 13 overdoses in Jefferson City. None has resulted in deaths. "Knock on wood," Captain Shoemaker said.