The St. Louis metropolitan region has seen a significant rise in heroin use in recent years.  Recent “advances” in the production of heroin have made the drug more potent, more addictive, able to ingested without the use of needles, and cheap ($10-$20 per capsule).  Heroin is a highly addictive opiate derived from morphine, with minimal usage needed to develop powerful addiction.

In St. Louis, heroin use is not focused on income, race, gender or geography, with an alarming rise in usage by youth over the past 2 years.  The number of deaths in Missouri due to heroin overdose has increased from 69 in 2007 to more than 230 in 2011, with 90% of total statewide deaths occurring in the St. Louis metro region.

In response to this growing heroin problem in the St. Louis region, the RHC invested $50,000 on a special “Regional Heroin Response” initiative coordinated by the United Way of Greater St. Louis.  As part of the initiative, the RHC invested an additional $40,000 in a partnership with the Nine Network to produce a prime time, on-air “Heroin Response Town Hall” and a tie-in Stay Tuned broadcast in November 2012.  This sixty-minute program aired live on Channel 9 with over 10,000 at-home viewers and over 200 St. Louis community members and RHC stakeholders in attendance.

Project Outcomes to Date

As a direct result of the investment to the Regional Heroin Collaborative, Bridgeway Behavioral Health and Preferred Family Healthcare have hired 15 employees to increase the number of heroin-addicted individuals served and reduce wait times to enroll individuals in treatment services.  Since 2012, the funding has been used to:

  • Complete 2058 opiate screenings with 48 hours of initial client contact
  • Refer 1250 clients into interim treatment services
  • Admit 627 clients into immediate outpatient detox services
  • Admit 707 clients into Outpatient or Residential programs
  • Engage 681 clients in interim services for over 30 days
  • Increase regional media and educational efforts by over 200%

The RHC is proud to partner with the following organizations on this regional effort:

  • Bridgeway Behavioral Health
  • Community and Children’s Resource Board of St. Charles
  • Franklin County Community Resource Board
  • Hauck Family Foundation
  • Lutheran Foundation
  • Missouri Foundation for Health
  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, St. Louis
  • Nine Network of Public Media
  • Preferred Family Healthcare
  • St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund
  • St. Louis Mental Health Board
  • State of Missouri, Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse
  • United Way of Great St. Louis, Inc.