Springfield emergency responders weigh in on solving opioid crisis

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - As the President calls the opioid crisis a nationwide epidemic, some of the people who fight it in Springfield have a common game plan to end the problem here.

Stop the problem before it starts.

Sure, that’s easier said than done, but 80 percent of heroin addicts started by abusing prescription drugs. If the original abuse doesn’t happen, then it’s possible that the heroin addiction won’t either.

"People drive two or three hours and sit in waiting rooms because they're addicted, Dr. Brian Finke of Cox Health said. “One oxycodone pill is worth $30, so 20 of them could mean a $600 day for someone."

He suggests creating a state-wide database of prescriptions to curb abuse. Some hospitals in Springfield, Kansas City, and St. Louis share information about who’s been prescribed pain killers that could be habit-forming.

Critics of the idea point out that any electronic database is vulnerable to being hacked, but Dr. Finke says it would help him determine who needs specific drugs the most.

Meanwhile, Springfield police say they’re dealing with more heroin calls than ever. Last year they seized 9 lbs of heroin, and they say they’re on track to match that this year.

"Probably starting in 2015 is when we started seeing a marked increase in heroin seizures and it's grown since then," an undercover officer said.

The officer said that they can work to keep heroin from coming to town, but the best way to keep it from being used is to keep people from becoming addicted in the first place.