St. Joseph was the seventh of nine stops across the state for the Missouri Health Department in their tour to discuss the national opioid crisis.
Tuesday morning state officials met with healthcare professionals, local law enforcement officers and others to discuss the opioid epidemic in the Fulkerson Center at Missouri Western State University.
Speakers at the summit addressed all facets of opioid abuse , ranging from personal accounts to an update on the state’s current efforts to curb the spread of opioid use.
Experts acknowledged that areas in rural northwest Missouri region do not rank as high as metro areas like Kanas City and St. Louis when it comes to opioid abuse, however, Director of Health and Senior Services Randall Williams said those in the field should be alert when it comes to how opioids are trafficked throughout the state.
“Northwest Missouri has not had the impact the other three regions of the state have, but we know these drugs follow the highways, and we have a lot of highways in Northwest Missouri. So we are always very concerned and don’t get complacent that it could spread,” Williams said.
In 2016, 908 Missourians died from opioid use, raising the state average of opioid related deaths 35 percent from 2015.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose . Fifty percent of the deaths involved prescription painkillers like fentanyl and oxycodone.
Despite Gov. Greitens executive order in July to create a statewide drug monitoring system; Missouri still remains the only state in the country without a prescription drug monitoring system in place to combat the national opioid crisis.