Meeting discusses heroin increases

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COLUMBIA - Residents gathered Thursday for an emergency meeting to talk about the increase of heroin usage in Columbia and mid-Missouri area. Columbia police say there have been four deaths related to heroin overdoses since August 2010. 

About 75 people showed up to hear tips on how to identifying heroin use, recognize warning signs and receive prevention methods.

Within the last 6 month, the narcotics office has received the highest number of heroin cases ever. Columbia Police say heroin usage has decreased in the St. Louis area but is becoming more common in Columbia. In 2009, St. Louis county reported 117 deaths due to heroin overdoses.

There are currently 48 states with a prescription drug monitoring program. Prevention Resource specialists Linda Frost suggest that Missouri should have the same type of program because abuse of those drugs often lead to heroin use. 

"That would help stop people who are using prescription drugs which often leads to heroin use because heroin are narcotic pain killers or the same class of drugs," Frost said.

The most common type of heroin they see are China White, Gravel and Concrete. In the past, drug abuser commonly came low-income families. Now abusers are ranging in ages from 16 to 65 from all races and economic status.

Frost suggests parents establish a better relationship with their children at home. 

"Research shows that if you just eat dinner five times or more with your kids that actually prevents substance abuse. And we are talking about time spent with your kids not watching TV while you're eating, not texting while you're eating," Frost said.

Substance abuse starts when you are young. Reasons why adolescents are more prone to do drugs is due to:

1. During their developmental stage when they are trying to fit in with their peers

2. Coping with stress

3. Mental disorders

Frost says the times when kids are most vulnerable to use drugs is after school or during the summer months. She suggests keeping your kids active in the community through some form of extracurricular activities.