Drug addiction | St. Louis Public Radio

Drug addiction

Donald Hutson is one of hundreds of people who have overdosed while in state prisons since May 2017, according to Missouri Department of Corrections records.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Destini Hutson spent much of her childhood picturing what life would be like when her dad came home.

Over time, her plans turned to the practical: teach him how to use an iPhone, help him find a job, go to Chick-fil-A together.

“‘It’s a lot that you’re going to have to learn,’” Hutson told her dad, Donald, who went to prison in 1997 when she was still a baby.

Those plans came to a halt last September, when Donald Hutson died of a drug overdose at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific. He’s one of more than 430 inmates who have overdosed in state prisons since May 2017, according to internal data from the Missouri Department of Corrections. While there are many ways drugs are smuggled into prisons, DOC employees say internal corruption is a key part of the problem.

Phil Cohen with two of the toy trucks he made when he started woodworking. It was his escape from a life of drugs and crime, and now he hires people with similar backgrounds to work at his business.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Phil Cohen didn’t think anyone would want to work for him at the cabinetry company he opened in St. James in 2004. He was recovering from being addicted to drugs and had been in trouble with the law. He didn’t know much about business. His plans were largely built on faith.

So he hired people like him — former criminals and people who had been drug addicted who were turning their lives around.

Why Missouri's The Last Holdout On A Statewide Rx Monitoring Program

May 21, 2019
U.S. map illustration
LYDIA ZURAW | KHN ILLUSTRATION / GETTY IMAGES

Missouri retained its lonely title as the only state without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program — for the seventh year in a row — after the legislative session ended Friday.

Patient advocates, politicians, experts and members of the medical community had hoped this would finally be the year Missouri would create a statewide electronic database designed to help spot the abuse of prescription drugs. After all, Republican Gov. Mike Parson had pushed for it and, more important, its longtime opponent was no longer in office to block it.

In one town in the Metro East, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, police are forcing landlords to evict tenants who have called for help during an overdose because they have heroin or other controlled substances in their rental property.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents of the St. Louis region will be able to discard unwanted and expired prescription drugs at dozens of local police departments this Saturday.

The twice-yearly “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day,” which is held in cities across the country, aims to reduce prescription drug abuse. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which spearheads the program, estimates they have collected more than 9.9 million pounds of prescription drugs since 2010.

Tia Hosler woke up at 7:35 a.m. on a friend’s couch next to her newborn son’s crib after an overnight babysitting gig.

The 26-year-old had slept through her alarm and was late for the bus, her ride to group therapy in Fort Wayne, Indiana. And now she had to scramble. She tied her Kool-Aid-red hair into a tight bun and kissed her 2-month-old, Marsean. 


This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 20, 2012 - Jason Eccker rarely counsels a cocaine addict, and he can't remember the last time he encountered someone addicted to methamphetamine. He started working at a residential treatment facility in south St. Louis about a year ago, and since then, opiate addictions have become the most common maladies among clients 25 and under.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 23, 2011 - (Reader Beth von Behren commented on a recent column in which I suggested that increased incarceration has resulted in decreased crime. She wanted to know if I felt that legalized abortion had also reduced the crime rate and questioned the wisdom of incarcerating nonviolent offenders.)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 3, 2011 - If you're having trouble keeping your New Year's resolutions, it may be your mother's fault. Or your grandfather's. Or even your great-great grandmother's.

It's not a blame game. It's a relatively new science called epigenetics that may help explain why you blew your diet, sneaked a cigarette or fell off the wagon a short time after vowing to stop on Jan. 1.