Addiction Continues to Expand in St. Louis Region

St. Louis, MO (STL.News) This morning the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse – St. Louis Area (NCADA-STL) released final overdose death numbers for the St. Louis metro region in 2018.  Deaths involving opioids, primarily fentanyl, reached a new level peak of 1080.  This represents a 29.9% increase in opioid involved deaths between 2017 and 2018.

“The opioid crisis continues to escalate in our region, with an average of about 3 people dying per day,” said Nichole Dawsey, Executive Director of NCADA.  “Fentanyl is involved in the overwhelming majority of these deaths.”

Opioids are not the only illicit drug causing deaths in the metro area.  In 2018 methamphetamine was involved in 267 deaths and cocaine was involved in 163 deaths between St. Louis City and St. Louis, Jefferson, Franklin, and St. Charles Counties.

“This indicates a need for a more broad approach to substance use in general,” said Deputy Executive Director Jenny Armbruster.  “The opioid crisis is the more lethal aspect of what we are truly experiencing, which is an addiction crisis.  In order to address addiction in a comprehensive manner, we need to look at upstream interventions including school based and community based prevention and addressing social determinants of health.  This upstream focus must be paired with increased access to mental health services and treatment for substance use disorder.”

Between 2013 and 2018 the eastern region of Missouri saw a 187% increase in opioid involved deaths, a 186% increase in cocaine involved deaths, and a 685% increase in deaths involving methamphetamine.

Note: Many deaths reported involve multiple substances and may be counted more than once, i.e. a death involving fentanyl and methamphetamine would be counted as a death related to opioids and a death related to methamphetamine.