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Is Missouri Struggling With Pain Killer Addiction More Than Other States?

Since 1999 the incidence of painkiller addiction, overdose and drug diversion has drastically increased in Missouri. Every year more than 20,000 Americans die from overdoses. Overdose of opioid drugs is the most common cause of these deaths. Missouri accounts for more than its share of these and in 2013, the most recent year reported, the state had a record 1,484 drug or alcohol induced deaths. Hospital inpatient and Emergency Department visits for painkillers and other prescribed opiate type medication have increased roughly 140% in the last nine years with the largest increases in the St. Louis, Northeast and Southeast areas.

For one thing, Missouri is the only state, at this writing, that isn't part of the PDMP (Prescription Drug Monitoring Program), state-run electronic databases used to track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled prescription drugs to patients. This system of databases provides a method to check and track the prescription drug use of patients and is designed to curb abuse, doctor shopping and drug diversion by addicts and traffickers. The PDMP can also help to identify "Pill Mills". Pill mills are MDs or pain clinics that give out prescriptions for dangerous and addictive medications too readily, often with a profit motivation.

It can start quite innocently. A Mother goes skiing with the family and falls and sprains her wrist. When she returns home and sees her doctor and a x-ray reveals nothing broken so she leaves the Dr.'s office with a bandage and a prescription for pain relievers. When she comes out of the pharmacy, she has a bottle of 60 opioid pain pills! Perhaps she only takes a couple and doesn't like the feeling so just puts up with the pain. The bottle sits in the medicine cabinet until 'Junior' spots it and starts taking a few for the weekends or selling a couple for some extra cash. This can constitute a serious federal crime and junior could be charged with drug 'trafficking'.

Solutions proposed for this problem in Missouri include:

Addiction to these drugs is real and can rob a person, or a family, of the ability to function at any acceptable level. Effective, long-term treatment is available and should be sought.

Illicit Drug Use in the Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older in Missouri, by Substate Region: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2010, 2011, and 2012 NSDUHs (Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services noted 28,498 illicit drug mentions during admissions to instate hospitals for medical treatment, in 2010.

Missouri State Government Agencies

Drug Abuse Facts

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