The Opioid Epidemic in Columbia, Missouri
Substance abuse has inflicted a heavy toll on Columbia and all of Missouri. From 2001 to 2016, the rate of deaths caused by overdoses on illegal drugs rose by 243%. Opioids, especially heroin, fentanyl, and fentanyl analogs, were involved in 70% of the fatal overdoses.
Fentanyl is an opioid which is even more potent or more lethal than heroin. In 2017, about 950 people in Missouri lost their lives to opioids. The opioid epidemic has arisen from the prescription of addictive painkillers. In 2015, a year when 672 Missourians suffered a fatal opioid overdose, doctors and pharmacists in Missouri issued 5.2 million painkiller prescriptions. In Columbia and Boone County, according to the Missouri Department of Health, 51 people died from an opioid overdose over the course of four years, from 2013 to 2017. By March 2018, opioids claimed an additional three lives in Boone County.
Methamphetamine Production in Columbia
Until recently, Missouri had the highest rates of methamphetamine production in the United States. Missouri is no longer the “capital of meth production” thanks to restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine, the drug which meth manufacturers use to create their dangerous and illegal product. However, meth production in Missouri persists and the state has begun to suffer an influx of meth which traffickers import from other states and from Mexico. Meth abuse is becoming more prevalent in Boone County, and police in Columbia are working diligently to arrest meth traffickers and confiscate their supply. In 2018, Columbia police arrested one man who was carrying 251 grams of meth worth $25,000.
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What is Columbia Doing to Fight Substance Abuse?
The city of Columbia has adopted several important measures to help residents who are addicted to opioids or other drugs. In 2017, Columbia set up a prescription drug monitoring program. In Boone County, jails are beginning to provide doses of Naloxone (also known as Narcan) to inmates who are living with addiction upon release. Naloxone is a medication which reverses the effects of opioid overdose and has saved the lives of 1,087 people in Missouri since late 2016. Police officers and firefighters in Columbia now carry Naloxone. Additionally, Columbia has sponsored Prescription Drug Take Back Events where Boone County residents can safely relinquish dangerous opioids to the police. At one such event in 2018, Columbia police gathered 826 pounds of prescription opioids in two days. There are also drug courts in Boone County which help addicted residents begin to live a drug-free life. Boone County drug courts have helped more than 650 county residents achieve their recovery.
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Finding Help in Columbia
There is hope in Columbia for people who are trying to overcome substance abuse. If you or someone you know is trying to start a new life without addiction, contact a dedicated treatment provider today to get answers about the first steps to recovery.