ST LOUIS, MO – For the fourth year in a row, the St. Louis region has set a new record for opioid overdose deaths. Though the numbers are not yet final, preliminary data indicate that the region experienced at least a 5% increase in fatal opioid overdoses last year. At least 756 lives were lost to the opioid epidemic in 2017, up from 712 in 2016. Forms of fentanyl, a lethal synthetic opioid, are causing the majority of the deaths. These highly concentrated drugs were present in 90% of fatal overdoses in St. Louis City and County.
“Since 2007 the St. Louis region has lost over 4,500 people to the opioid epidemic,” said NCADA Executive Director Nichole Dawsey. “It is imperative that we continue to dedicate resources for treatment, and recovery to decrease this trend. If we are to rein in this epidemic, we must begin to fund universal, school-based prevention programming throughout the region and help kids deal with life, and the pain that life sometimes brings.”
There is, however, some room for cautious optimism. “We know that civilian and emergency responder access to naloxone is saving lives,” said Brandon Costerison, Public Awareness Specialist with NCADA. “Given the prevalence of fentanyl in the St. Louis region, it is essential that those at risk of witnessing or experiencing an overdose have this life-saving medication on hand. As bad as these numbers are, if it not for the availability of naloxone, they would have been far worse.”
NCADA is a community health agency that works to reduce or prevent the harms of alcohol and other drug use through education, intervention, and advocacy. People looking for prevention resources and how to access naloxone can contact NCADA at (314) 962-3456.
SOURCE: news provided by NCADA