Addiction

St. Louis County Officer David Meyer tests pushing the Narcan nasal syringe hard enough to create mist instead of dribbling out.
File Photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis-based agencies coordinating Missouri’s federal grant to prevent opioid overdose deaths are training their first batch of first responders Monday afternoon.

Officers and EMTs from the Warrenton and Wright City fire protection districts and the Eureka, St. Charles City, Marthasville and Columbia police departments will be taught how to administer the overdose antidote, naloxone, before collecting a supply of the life-saving drug to bring back to their jurisdictions.

St. Louis County Police Officer Kathy Poncin practices administering Narcan Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 while emergency physician David Tan looks on.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Federal dollars for the prevention of overdose deaths caused by opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers are being sent to St. Louis area counties in both Missouri and Illinois.

Each state also received one additional federal grant aimed at fighting the national opioid crisis. One will help the Missouri Department of Health better track opioid overdoses. The other will increase access to medication-assisted addiction treatment in Illinois, but the Metro East won’t benefit from that grant.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In U.S. medical schools, a total of nine hours is required in pain management training for doctors. That’s 0.3% of total time in medical school and, to compare, veterinarian schools spend more than 500x more time spent learning to treat pain in animals.

That’s according to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins in 2011 and cited by Dr. Michael Bottros, the director of acute pain service at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt meets with people Feb. 20 at Washington University's Alzheimer's Research Center in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

The U.S. senators representing Missouri and Illinois are playing an active role in congressional efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., all voted for the popular Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act known as CARA.

e-MagineArt.com | Flickr

Updated May 31 with bill signing — St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay went to St. Louis County today to sign the bill setting up the city's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The bill allows the city and county to work together to form a cohesive system. The mayor and county Executive Steve Stenger are pledging to bring down drug overdoses.

Probuphine works by implanting four bars like this under the skin of the upper arm. The bars release a dose of the opioid addiction medicine buprenorphine for six months.
Braeburn Pharmaceuticals | provided

Updated May 27 with FDA decision and new pricing details — The Food and Drug Administration approved Thursday the buprenorphine implant Probuphine for use treating addictions to prescription painkillers and heroin.

The implant received a lot of attention in the addiction medicine field in anticipation of its approval as a potential game changer in the fight against opioid addiction. It could also have a $5,000 plus price tag every six months.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

Lawmakers, prosecutors, and first responders are hoping that two bills introduced Friday at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen will help control the region's opioid addiction crisis.

The first bill, sponsored by aldermen Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward, Cara Spencer, D-20th Ward, Dionne Flowers, D-2nd Ward, and Megan-Ellyia Green, D-15 Ward, would set up a prescription drug monitoring program similar to one in place in St. Louis County. The second, which is sponsored by Spencer and Krewson, is a "good Samaritan" bill intended to convince more people to call 911 when people overdose.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

A showdown is looming in the Missouri statehouse over an effort to make Missouri the final state in the nation to gain a prescription drug monitoring program.

State Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, has promised to filibuster House Bill 1892, which would let doctors check a database before giving patients a prescription for opioid painkillers, and require pharmacists to report filling opioid prescriptions within 24 hours.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

In St. Louis County, 36 people have died from a heroin overdose this year. Although the number is a 23 percent decrease from the 47 fatalities reported last June, there is still much to overcome.

Casey Lambert, a detective with the St. Louis County Police Department Bureau of Drug Enforcement, explained that raising awareness and reaching the right crowd is difficult. Many of the citizens who succumb to heroin addiction are often teens and young adults.

Co-directors Cory Byers (left) and Ashley Seering film additional footage in a nursing lab at SIU-Edwardsville. "The Heroin Project" premieres May 3.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated on July 21 to add information about the film's screening as part of the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. The co-directors were guests on "St. Louis on the Air."

When Ashley Seering and Cory Byers started gathering stories about heroin addiction and deaths in southern Illinois, the Edwardsville-based filmmakers didn’t realize it would turn into a feature-length documentary.

Researchers Laura Jean Bierut, MD (left), and Li-Shiun Chen, MD, examine X-rays of a patient with lung cancer.
Robert Boston|Washington University in St. Louis

Can’t stop smoking? Your genes might be part of the problem.

After a case review of 24 studies involving 29,000 participants, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis determined that smokers who carried a relatively common genetic marker tend quit smoking four years later on average than those without. The genetic variation was also linked to earlier diagnoses for lung cancer. 

Michael Velardo | Flickr

St. Louis has a heroin problem. New attention was brought to that problem during the Super Bowl, when the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse–St. Louis bought local airtime for a one-minute ad.

Michael Velardo | Flickr

Experts who study drug trends say the presumed fatal heroin overdose of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman shines the spotlight anew on the need for society to come to grips with widespread heroin abuse across the nation and in St. Louis.

Among those who have studied the issue is Theodore “Ted” Cicero, a  professor in neuropharmacology in psychiatry at Washington University Medical School. He has tracked patient trends in 150 drug treatment facilities nationwide for more than seven years.

Two St. Louis organizations dedicated to combating alcoholism have teamed up to bring a play about Alcoholics Anonymous to the city.

"Pass It On: An Evening with Bill W. and Dr. Bob" is set in a 1948 meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous as the organization's two founders share their stories of recovery. The play will be performed on the campus of Logan University on Saturday, October 5, with proceeds benefiting NCADA St. Louis and Harris House.

When anonymity is one of the major tenets of the best known addiction recovery organization, it seems incongruous that Greg Williams, a person in long-term recovery from drug abuse, is urging others like him to publicly disclose their status.  He believes that is the answer to counter the stigma that is still prevalent toward addiction and treatment for it.  He is so certain that he is right that he has devoted months of his life to “The Anonymous People,” a film documenting the many “game changers” as he calls them, people who are willing to be open about their success with recovery.