Tuesday: 'With You STL' Shows DEA Focus On Outreach, Opioid Crisis | St. Louis Public Radio

Tuesday: 'With You STL' Shows DEA Focus On Outreach, Opioid Crisis

Jun 25, 2020

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Tuesday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

More often than not, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is associated with tracking drug cartels and arresting traffickers. But the law enforcement agency also ensures doctors and pharmacists are following the law with regards to prescriptions, a role that has become even more critical as well as more challenging in recent months.

And in the DEA’s St. Louis Division, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more focus on community outreach, particularly as the opioid crisis continues to ravage the country. Earlier this month, the St. Louis County Department of Health reported a 47% increase in opioid-related deaths among Black men in 2019.

This spring, the division launched the website With You STL in an effort to help connect community members with critical resources for prevention, treatment and recovery. 

Special Agent in Charge Bill Callahan, who began leading the division about two years ago, describes community outreach and advocacy as key pillars alongside his team’s more traditional enforcement efforts.

“We have recognized that the enforcement piece alone is not gonna do it,” he told St. Louis on the Air.

This other side of the DEA often surprises people, notes Inez Davis, the division’s diversion program manager.

“Yes, we are a law enforcement agency, but we are out there in the community, making them aware of the opioid problem, making them aware of avenues they have to seek treatment,” she said.

On Tuesday’s show, Davis and Callahan will join host Sarah Fenske to share more about these lesser-known elements of the DEA’s work.

What do you think is missing from efforts to address the opioid crisis? Tweet us (@STLonAir), send an email to talk@stlpublicradio.org or share your thoughts via our St. Louis on the Air Facebook group, and help inform our coverage.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.