Brandon Costerison from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA) presented on the topic, “The Ongoing Opioid Crisis”, held at CenterPointe Hospital to an audience of 200 local providers. Brandon reported there were 1,016 reported deaths from opioid overdoses in 2018 in the Greater St. Louis Region, and the data is still coming in for 2018. This represents a 54% increase in overdose deaths since 2014.
One of the major factors in the increase of opioid overdose deaths is fentanyl, which is 80-100 times stronger than morphine and often added to heroin to increase its potency. Heroin users have no way of knowing they are purchasing fentanyl, which often results in an overdose death.
Brandon stated that the NCADA provides Narcan (naloxone) through the MO-HOPE Project to counteract the life-threatening effects of opioid overdoses. He also provided information about the Good Samaritan Law which protects users or witnesses from minor drug and alcohol violations when seeking medical help during a drug or alcohol overdose.