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St. Louis County sees drop in heroin overdoses, continues to raise awareness

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.

“Trying to get the word out to people who need it, to hear it, is the hard part,” Lambert said. “We have town hall meetings and those citizens that attend are a lot of times retired and don’t have younger kids.”

Lambert said officials are collaborating on a variety of platforms to reach their target audience, including advertising on apps such as Pandora, on billboards, and through films such as “The Heroin Project.” In addition, the proposed Good Samaritan law would offer legal protection to people who contact emergency officials for overdose victims.

Though most of Lambert’s heroin cases involve middle-class, white citizens, she said it is important to understand that no one is immune from becoming addicted.

“This drug does not discriminate,” Lambert said. “We do have more white males that are dying from it, however this year we’ve also had more than 10 black males that have died from it. So overall, I don’t think it’s a white or black issue, and if this Good Samaritan law passes, it’s going to [benefit] all races.”

At 5 p.m. on July 22, “The Heroin Project” documentary will screen at the Tivoli Theatre as part of St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase.

Set in Madison County, Ill., the film focuses on raising awareness of the local and national implications of heroin addiction on young people.

“It’s never too early, it’s never too late [to seek help],” Lambert said. “As soon as you find out that your child is using any type of drug, there’s multiple resources around the area. Whatever best suits the individual, we can help them find that help.”

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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