Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Heroin continues to be a serious problem throughout the county. The Centers for Disease Control released data earlier this month that showed heroin use increasing among nearly every group – age, income, gender, etc. And according to the CDC’s report, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths heave nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.

The White House announced earlier this month that it was determined to do something about this problem. It introduced the Heroin Response Strategy, which works to promote public health and public safety partnerships through a 15-state area. This new project aims to focus more on treating heroin addicts than on punishing them.

Heroin use and overdose rates are rising across many demographics, including race, age, gender and income.  One former addict, Jude Hassan, works at a St. Louis-area treatment center and is working to raise awareness of drug abuse and addiction.

Jude Hassan was once a typical high school student– active in school extracurriculars and just wanting to fit in. But before he completed his time at St. Louis-area Lafayette High School, he was using heroin eight to 10 times a day.

Now, after more than eight years of sobriety, he's sharing his personal experiences of heroin addiction with high school students and working to educate parents and teachers about how to spot opioid use. 

OpenFile Vancouver / Flickr

A year ago Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed HB 2040 into law, allowing law enforcement officers and certified firefighters to carry and administer naloxone, the opiate overdose antidote.

Naloxone, or Narcan as it’s sometimes called, instantly reverses an overdose. And while the law has been in an effect for over a year, Missouri law enforcement agencies have not begun to use the drug.

More than 50 heroin traffickers have been arrested for crimes committed in St. Charles County. Most were arrested in a 30-hour period, bringing a swift conclusion to a ten-month collaborative investigation.

Since last fall state, local and federal authorities have been working together to bring about the arrests, representing what the head of the St. Louis region’s Drug Enforcement Agency described as a more proactive partnership than past collaborations.

CDC NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality / The Center for Disease Control

The CDC reported in March of this year that the Midwest now sees higher rates of heroin overdose deaths than any other region of the country. The rate for heroin related deaths in the Midwest increased nearly 11-fold between 2000 and 2013.

Members of Missouri Law Enforcement said that opiates, including prescription drugs and heroin, have become more commonly abused in recent years.

According to the St. Louis County Health Department there were 113 heroin related deaths in 2014. And according to the St. Louis City Department of Health there were 123 heroin or opiate overdose deaths in the city.

Here a lawmaker, a treatment expert and families talk about the impact heroin and opiates are having in Missouri.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

A House bill that would have allowed anyone to possess and administer naloxone, a drug that reverses opiate overdoses was one of the victims of the Senate stalemate at the end of the 2015 Legislative session.

Last July, Gov. Jay Nixon signed a bill that allows law enforcement to carry naloxone in their vehicles and administer the drug at the scene of an overdose. This is much like what paramedics have done throughout the state for many years.

But some legislators, advocates and law enforcement believe that putting Narcan in the hands of friends and family of addicts would be more effective at saving lives.

staxnet / Flickr

Supporters say a measure to allow more access to an easy-to-use treatment for heroin and other opioid drug overdoses would save lives.

The Missouri House gave initial approval Monday to a bill that would allow pharmacists and pharmacy assistants to prescribe a drug that's been effective in treating potentially fatal overdoses to anyone.

staxnet / Flickr

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed a bill that permits police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians to obtain and administer an antidote for heroin overdoses.

Jefferson City Taking a Stand against Heroin

Mar 3, 2014
Batul Hassan / KOMU

Drug overdose rates have been on the rise in Missouri.

Alexandra Olgin / KBIA News

A recent study by researchers at Chicago’s Roosevelt University found that between 2007 and 2011, the number of deaths from heroin overdose in the state of Missouri more than tripled. In 2007, fewer than 70 people died from heroin overdose. In 2011, that number ballooned to 244. 

Studies show most accidental overdoses happen in the presence of others. KBIA’s Alexandra Olgin takes us to a rally in Jefferson City on Tuesday supports a bill that could encourage overdose witnesses to be a Good Samaritan and call 911.

Alexandra Olgin

Local advocates are striving to get the heroin problem in Missouri under control.The Missouri Recovery Network and Roosevelt University in Chicago conducted a study of heroin use. They found more people sought treatment for heroin and opiates than for methamphetamines in Missouri.

Newscast for May 25, 2012

May 25, 2012
Lukas Udstuen / KBIA

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

  • Police discuss heroin increase
  • New bus route to run between MU, downtown Columbia
  • University of Missouri Press to be eliminated

Police discuss heroin increase

May 25, 2012
Lukas Udstuen / KBIA

Columbia Police started seeing an increase in the number of heroin-related arrests and overdoses beginning about six months ago. Heroin is now the number-one drug the department investigates. Last night police held a town-hall meeting to inform residents about the growing threat.

staxnet / Flickr

The Cole County Sheriff’s Department and Jefferson City Police are working on a heroin awareness campaign.