Opioid deaths on rise, southeast MO on cusp of more deaths

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Hundreds of people came out to the Missouri Opioid Summit in Poplar Bluff on Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Speakers talked about the opioid crisis in Missouri. They talked about awareness and prevention, personal impact and police involvement.

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams said one of the major drugs that are causing a lot of deaths is Fentanyl.

He said it's the mix of that drug, plus with a possible rise in prescription pills in the Butler County area, that could be a "ground zero" for a lot of deaths.

"We're concerned that if the increase in Fentanyl gets coupled with the increase of prescription abuse here in Butler County, that we will start seeing an increase in deaths here in southeast Missouri," Williams said.

In the U.S., the economic impact of the opioid epidemic each year reaches up to $55 billion in health and social costs; and $20 billion in emergency department and inpatient care. That's according to FCC Behavioral Health.

In addition to that, 78 people die from an opioid-related overdose on average per day in the United States.

The State of Missouri is seeing an increase in deaths in 2017 by 15 to 20 percent compared to 2016.

During their remarks at the meeting, a Missouri DEA official discussed one incident where a person was arrested in Cape Girardeau that had over 30,000 pills, including Fentanyl, heroin and other drugs the person used to distribute using the dark web.

Reynolds County Health Department Administrator Frances Vermillion said the epidemic is eye-opening. She said the department tries to educate their county residents about opioid and other drugs to help prevent them from getting involved.

"We promote prevention," Vermillion said. "Prevention is number one in our area for education. You have to teach a child and educate a child on what the risks are."

Vermillion said Reynolds County doesn't have a hospital and they have to drive 30 to 45 minutes away if they need serious help. So, prevention is a must in their area. She said they try to teach mothers and children first.

Speakers at the meeting also recommended people to take their unwanted drugs and drop them off on Saturday in their area as part of the National Drug Take Back program.

Check with your local law enforcement agency on where you can drop off your unneeded prescriptions.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved.