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Drug Culture

The Opioid Epidemic in Missouri

What is the Opioid Epidemic?

The opioid epidemic refers to the widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs, leading to a surge in addiction and overdose deaths. This crisis began in the late 1990s when healthcare providers increased prescriptions of opioid painkillers, not fully aware of their addictive potential. 

A Nationwide Problem with Local Impact

While the opioid epidemic is a nationwide issue, its impact on states like Missouri is particularly severe. Missouri has seen a significant rise in opioid-related deaths, affecting families and communities across the state. 

How Serious is the Opioid Epidemic in Missouri?

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, opioid overdoses have become a leading cause of death in the state. In 2022 alone, Missouri reported 1,467 opioid-related fatalities, marking a steep increase from previous years. This places Missouri among the states most affected by the opioid crisis. 

When compared to national statistics, Missouri’s opioid overdose death rate is alarmingly high, emphasizing the need for targeted public health interventions. Urban areas like St. Louis have particularly high rates of opioid misuse and overdose deaths, though rural areas are not immune to this crisis. 

Facts on the Opioid Epidemic in Missouri

What Are the Common Opioids Misused in Missouri?

Types of Opioids

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • As well as illegal drugs such as heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. 

Prescription opioids are often misused due to their powerful pain-relieving properties, which can also produce feelings of euphoria. This misuse can quickly lead to dependence and addiction, especially when these medications are not used as prescribed. 

What Contributes to the Opioid Crisis in Missouri?

Prescription Practices

Increased prescription of opioid medications in the past decades has significantly contributed to the crisis. Many individuals who are prescribed opioids for legitimate medical reasons may become dependent on them, leading to misuse and addiction. 

Illicit Drug Use

The availability of illicit opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl, has exacerbated the problem. These substances are often more potent and dangerous than prescription opioids, leading to higher rates of overdose and death. 

How Does Opioid Addiction Affect Individuals and Communities?

Impact on Individuals

Opioid addiction can have devastating effects on individuals, including physical health issues, mental health disorders, and an increased risk of overdose. People with opioid use disorder often face significant challenges in their personal and professional lives, including strained relationships and job loss. 

Community Consequences

The opioid epidemic also places a heavy burden on communities. It increases healthcare costs, strains law enforcement resources, and contributes to broader social issues such as homelessness and crime. Communities in Missouri are working tirelessly to combat these challenges, but the road to recovery is long and complex. 

What Are the Signs of Opioid Addiction?

Recognizing the signs of opioid addiction is crucial for early intervention and treatment. Common signs include: 

  • Increased tolerance to opioids. 
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug. 
  • Changes in behavior, such as isolation from friends and family. 
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home. 
  • Financial difficulties due to spending on drugs. 

Understanding Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from opioids can be severe and include symptoms such as anxiety, muscle aches, sweating, nausea, and intense cravings. These symptoms make it challenging for individuals to quit without professional help. 

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

While the opioid epidemic, especially in Missouri, is just starting to get the recognition it needs from the health community, it is important to know, that there is hope. Treatment and rehab facilities are available in locations throughout Missouri, including Sana Lake Recovery Center in St. Louis, MO. 

The treatment of opioid addiction is serious and does require professional help. Trying to self-detox from these prescription medications is not only dangerous but will result in severe withdrawal symptoms, and even death.  

Missouri offers a range of treatment options for opioid addiction, from inpatient rehabilitation centers to outpatient programs. Facilities like Sana Lake Recovery Center in Dittmer, MO, provide comprehensive care tailored to individual needs. 

Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) offer valuable peer support and can be integral to long-term recovery. Community organizations also provide resources and assistance to those struggling with addiction. 

Treating opioid addiction typically involves a combination of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), behavioral therapies, and support groups. This integrated approach addresses both the physical dependence and the psychological aspects of addiction. 

MAT uses medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These medications help individuals maintain recovery by stabilizing brain chemistry and blocking the euphoric effects of opioids. 

Behavioral therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management, are essential components of addiction treatment. These therapies help individuals develop coping strategies, change unhealthy behaviors, and address underlying mental health issues. 

What is the Future of Opioid Addiction Treatment in Missouri?

Innovative Approaches and Programs

Missouri continues to develop and implement innovative programs to combat the opioid epidemic. This includes expanding access to MAT, increasing funding for addiction treatment services, and integrating telemedicine to reach underserved areas.

Policy Changes and Public Health Initiatives

Statewide initiatives focus on improving prescription practices, enhancing drug monitoring programs, and increasing public awareness about the dangers of opioid misuse. These efforts aim to reduce the incidence of opioid addiction and support those in recovery. 

Combating the Opioid Epidemic Together

The opioid epidemic in Missouri is a complex and challenging issue that requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach. By supporting addiction treatment efforts, promoting public awareness, and encouraging those struggling with addiction to seek help, we can make significant strides in overcoming this crisis. 

There is Hope at Sana Lake Recovery Center

At Sana Lake Recovery Center, our addiction specialists are trained to help those with drug addictions, including opiates. We know that asking for help is extremely difficult.  

Therefore, we pride ourselves in providing the best resources and high-quality continuum of care processes to ensure our patients know that there is hope for them and that they are in good hands during and after recovery.  

With multiple locations including O’Fallon and Affton, Missouri, we have the resources to help you reclaim your life.

While it starts with you, we will be here every step of the way. 

Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services. (2022). Opioid Overdose Data. Retrieved from 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Understanding the Epidemic. Retrieved from 

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Missouri: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms. Retrieved from 

Picture of Ashley Murry LCSW
Ashley Murry LCSW
Ashley Murry, LCSW, is the Chief Clinical Officer at Sana Lake Recovery. She oversees clinical operations, ensuring effective treatment strategies and compliance. Before this, she was Program Director at Gateway Foundation, managing care programs and collaborating with state departments. Ashley has also served as Director of Clinical Services at Treatment Management Company, improving staff retention and clinical standards. She holds a Master's in Social Work from the University of South Florida and a Bachelor's in Social Work from Saint Leo University. She is licensed in Florida, Arizona and Missouri.
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