Shot in the Dark: how opioids affect local counties and states

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We continue our look at the growing epidemic of opioid abuse in our series “Shot in the Dark – Shedding Light on the Opioid Crisis.”

“It obviously destroys their lives, destroys the lives of their families,” says Randee Kaiser.

So Jasper County Sheriff Randee Kaiser takes the issue of opioid abuse very seriously. It’s both the health impact and how it pushes up crime statistics.

“It is tough to pinpoint what percentage that is exactly but it is very, very high. I would not be surprised if it were 80 percent or higher,” says Kaiser.

Opioids and other illegal drugs. Jasper County is part of the Ozark Drug Enforcement Team, which cuts down on drug sales. But Kaiser adds that tracking illegal opioid sales isn’t like other drugs.

“It’s not like you have a big supplier bringing it in, opioid sources from across the border then a big distributor, it doesn’t work like that. It’s more like people are forced to go out and doctor shop or buy from a guy who does doctor shop,” says Kaiser.

The Jasper County commission joined a growing lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

“This is one incident where we want to get ahead of it because it is a major health crisis in the county,” says Tom Flanigan, Jasper Co. Commissioner.

And the county is one of 71 counties and cities voluntarily joining a St. Louis prescription drug monitoring program. They’ve been forced to act on their own, since Missouri is the only state without a PDMP.

“Unfortunately, the legislature has been unable to pass the PDMP,” says Rep. Charlie Davis. 

State Rep. Charlie Davis takes the issue very seriously – since his own experience with kidney stones and opioids.

“For two and a half days I took that and that was the first time that I understood how somebody could enjoy addiction,” says Davis.

An experience a thief cut short.

“Fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it somebody stole my oxy out of my office,” says Davis.

He’s disappointed to be ending his term without approving the PDMP, but predicts that could change with new lawmakers in the next session.

“I think you’re going to look at the legislature this year getting something passed and I think it’s going to be something of substance,” says Davis.

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