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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – A year after KMOX News took you inside the lives of heroin addicts, officials say the epidemic has eased.
“For the first time since we started the initiative a little over a year ago, we’re finally starting to see some positive signs,” says St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch. Fitch says heroin overdose deaths have dropped dramatically. “Last year the first quarter we had 24 deaths just in St. Louis County related to heroin. In the first quarter of this year we have 8, so that’s a significant reduction.”
Fitch says cases involving possession and sales of heroin are down slightly as well. He credits a law enforcement push, combined with public awareness created by media reports and town hall meetings on the crisis, “We’ve also talked about the signs, the symptoms, what parents can look for if they think their loved one may be involved with heroin and we think the education piece has really, really paid off.”
But he points out, it’s not time to let up on current efforts to educate young people and their parents. “It’s not time to say, this has been a success, it’s over, let’s move on to something else. We need to keep driving home the point that heroin is a killer and it’s continuing to be prevalent in our community.”
He tells KMOX the problem continues to be concentrated in the Western and Southern parts of St. Louis County. Fitch says the average overdose victims are white males in their mid-twenties.
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