I am appalled that Missouri leaders have spent $65 million of federal aid to address the opioid crisis, yet deaths in the state have increased by 16%. This is unacceptable, but even worse, the leaders who allocated that money feel they were successful and would do nothing differently. How can this be counted as a success when we are one of the few states where death rates for overdoses increased?
Rachel Winograd, a University of Missouri-St. Louis researcher tasked with deciding where federal dollars are allocated, said the cause points to lack of housing, incarceration rates, a fraying social safety net and no Medicaid expansion. Yet it's worthwhile to compare Missouri to other states in similar situations, like Kentucky and Georgia. Their overdose death rates decreased.
What about looking at programs to improve and provide access to mental health for those who truly need it?
Treatment programs should look at why our residents are turning to drugs, as well as looking at housing, social programs and access. When researching how Kentucky decreased its death rates, efforts pointed to education and treatment programs along with other “harm-reduction” efforts as factors in the lower death toll. Another factor Kentucky leaders pointed to was a Medicaid waiver that will allow drug treatment centers to open up more beds. They also enlisted Narcan programs, but this was listed as the third program, not the main program. Why can’t we learn from our neighbors and not re-create the wheel?
Susan Holt • Manchester