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Press Release: Opioid Overdose Deaths Rise to Over 1000 for St. Louis Region

For Immediate Release
Date 5/29/19
Contact: Brandon Costerison
314-962-3456 ext 367 (office) 

Opioid Overdose Deaths Rise to Over 1000 for St. Louis Region

(St. Louis)- This morning National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse- St. Louis Area (NCADA) announced that in 2018 the opioid crisis took over 1,000 lives in the St. Louis region, which includes St. Charles, Franklin, Jefferson, and St. Louis Counties and the City of St. Louis in Missouri, and St. Clair and Madison Counties in Illinois. While the final number of deaths is not yet available, preliminary reports indicate an increase of more than 20% in the number of fatal overdoses.

“The primary driver in overdose deaths is fentanyl,” said Brandon Costerison, Policy Coordinator for NCADA. “Over the past few years we’ve seen the prevalence of heroin decrease while more and more deaths involve fentanyl.”

Fentanyl and its analogues are potent opioids that have made their way into the region’s drug supply and dramatically increase the likelihood of a fatal overdose. Fentanyl analogues were found in the overwhelming majority of the fatal overdoses in St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis.

“Reaching this marker is a tragedy,” said Jenny Armbruster, Deputy Executive Director of NCADA. “However, with the prevalence of deadly fentanyl in the region’s drug supply, the fact that the numbers aren’t higher is a testament to the effectiveness of ongoing efforts to save lives.”

Increased access to naloxone through the MO-HOPE Project (www.mohopeproject.org), a collaboration between NCADA, the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at UMSL, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health has saved lives across the state as evidenced through overdose tracking systems. The MO-HOPE Project equips emergency responders and those citizens who are at risk of witnessing or experiencing overdoses with the overdose reversal medication naloxone, distributing over 20,000 doses across the state over the past 2.5 years. In 2018 alone, MO-HOPE has collected 2,222 reports of lives saved across the state. Also, more Missourians than ever are accessing treatment and recovery services through the State Targeted and State Opioid Response grants (www.missouriopioidstr.org). Since May 2017, over 4,800 people have accessed treatment services through these grants alone, and 498 have utilized recovery housing. Without these interventions, we would likely be facing a much higher death toll.

“Unfortunately all of these efforts are to catch up with the ever changing nature of the opioid crisis,” said Brandon Costerison. “We have watched it move from prescription drugs to heroin to fentanyl. As the drug supply become more deadly, we must redouble our commitment to prevention, increased access to treatment, evidence based harm reduction strategies, and support for recovery communities. A sustained, comprehensive, holistic approach is the only thing that will reverse the trends of the past decade and a half.”

NCADA is a community health organization that works to prevent and reduce the harms associated with alcohol and other drugs through education, intervention, and advocacy.

Categories: News

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