Heroin overdose deaths in Missouri are rising - KCTV5 News

Heroin overdose deaths in Missouri are rising

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The Missouri Health Department has issued a health advisory to schools about heroin overdose deaths.

There has been a rise in heroin use among teenagers over the past few years and also a rise in overdoses.

St. Louis seems to be the "hot spot" with 90 percent of state heroin deaths coming from that region.

Statistics data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services indicate that the number of deaths in Missouri residents because of heroin overdose has increased significantly within the last four years from 69 cases in 2007 to 167 in 2009, and 190 in 2010.

The provisional number of deaths for 2011 increased further to 244.

More than 53 percent of all heroin-associated deaths statewide are between 15 and 35 years of age.

Officials believe the crackdown on meth and cocaine has prompted some to turn to heroin.

Daniel, a recovering heroin addict whose last name KCTV5 isn't using, agrees.

"It's a matter of all the new laws cracking down on pills," he said. "I think a lot of people forget about the harder stuff that people end up going to."

He said heroin is cheaper.

"You can maintain your habit for a lot longer on heroin so I think that's why a lot of kids are doing it," Daniel said.

Gail Dean, a drug counselor at Kansas City Community Center, said heroin is unfortunately seeing a resurgence.

"Because it's not pharmaceutically measured, they don't know what they're getting and they don't know the strength of the drug itself," Dean said.

Missouri wants to see state and local agencies work together with private groups to improve access to heroin abuse treatment services in an effort to reduce overdoses.

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