ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Doctors are the latest front in the local war on drugs since they are the ones prescribing painkillers that often lead young teenagers to heroin.
“I don’t want to put all of the prescription painkiller problem on the medical community but they do have to own some of the responsibility,” Dan Duncan of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse says. “Some of the onus is on them.”
Duncan says the shift in focus comes after more than thirty town hall discussions at area high schools. He and the National Council worry that doctors often over-prescribe the drugs to youngsters.
Over the last six-and-a-half years, 1,645 people in the St. Louis area have died of heroin overdoses, a figure Duncan calls “pretty horrifying.”
Heroin overdose deaths among young people fell by about 30 percent in St. Louis City and St. Louis County last year. Duncan says those numbers are holding steady thus far this year but rising in the surrounding counties.
“It seems to have moved out of the urban and suburban areas to some degree but I would say we’re not out of the woods,” he added.
Meanwhile, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse’s “Not Even Once” campaign is now focusing on junior high students since that is where addictions to prescription painkillers often form.