You’ve probably heard of the opioid epidemic; the abuse of everything from heroin and oxycontin to hydrocodone and morphine. Tonight, we start a year long series called “A Shot in the Dark – shedding light on the opioid crisis.”
For many patients, it starts with a legitimate prescription that ends with deadly consequences.
“Too often we’re seeing it end in overdose or near death overdose,” says JPD Capt. Trevor Duncan.
Joplin Police Captain Trevor Duncan says opioid abuse has been a persistent problem in the city.
“For years, we’ve seen the abuse of prescription medication, and that has been very prevalent. And we really haven’t seen an obvious increase in that, it’s been very consistent for years,” says Duncan.
He points out that an addict often isn’t just breaking the law through drug abuse.
“We’ve always seen that drug use and drug sales and other crimes go hand in hand. Especially property crimes, but even all the way up to crimes on people. Robberies things like that,” says Duncan.
But while laws are broken, incarceration may not be the key to dealing with the crisis, according to Joplin City Health Director Dan Pekarek.
“You can’t arrest your way out of this situation. There’s not enough jail cells and you don’t want to do that – you want to get on the front end of it,” says Dan Pekarek.
One of the reasons the Joplin city council decided to join the St. Louis prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP. The database gives doctors and pharmacists more information about the medications patients are taking, potentially helping them to spot a trend before it’s a problem.
“Prevent people from getting it when they really don’t need it,” says Pekarek.
But the effort doesn’t stop there. Pekarek say education is crucial for everyone in Joplin.
“The physician, patient level, community wide education about the proper use and disposal of these things,” says Pekarek.
Like using prescription opioids when they’re absolutely necessary and then getting rid of them appropriately at an official disposal site.
For more information on the opioid crisis, you can follow the link we’ve provided here.