Springfield community comes together to address spike in overdoses

Published: Oct. 29, 2019 at 11:59 AM CDT
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In response to Springfield's recent spike in overdoses, one organization put together an emergency Springfield overdose summit.

With 40 overdoses in for overdose deaths in about a week's time, many in the community are searching for answers about the spike. David Stoecker with Better Life in Recovery decided he wanted to put together an event for the community, and they showed up. The Well on College Street hosted the event. A member of the Well's recovery program was one of the recent overdose deaths.

The day started Greene County Medical Examiner, the Springfield mayor, Health Department director, and State Representative Lynn Morris led a panel discussion about they overdose situation. The medical examiner explained how those with substance abuse disorders are playing roulette every time they get a new batch. He says there were 96 overdose deaths in Greene County last year and 63 so far this year, with 20 more awaiting verification through lab tests.

The panel discussed the need to focus more resources on mental health and fighting the stigma. Community leaders say they are working to create a crisis access point for those suffering from mental health and substance abuse, a place where people could go to get connected with help. There was also discussion about the need for a prescription drug monitoring program.

Attendees had a chance to learn about various treatments programs, harm reduction and even Narcan training.

"We really wanted to do something for the community," said Stoecker. "I know that they're talking about it on the city level and on the state level, but honestly, we're not putting tangible resources into people's hands in the community that care about somebody with a substance use disorder or have a substance use disorder. So that was kind of our focus is to do something so we could give people answers and they could leave having the resources they needed to engage in treatment, enage in recovery housing, engage in many of the amazing programs we have here in Springfield available."

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley addressed the group from Washington, D.C., saying he is asking the Drug Enforcement Agency to send a heroin fentanyl enforcement team to investigate the source of the drugs leading to the spike. The goal today is to give community members the resources to join in the fight against the opioid crisis.