ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Missouri is the only state in the US that does not have a prescription drug monitoring program, and it’s causing heroin use to rise, says police detective Casey Lambert.

She’s a detective with the St. Louis County police department’s Heroin Initiative, and says four-of-five people who are addicted to heroin admitted they first used prescription painkillers.

Related story: St. Louis Among Targets of New DEA Heroin Prevention Effort

“A lot of these drug users who are addicted to prescription pain killers can go to any doctor and get prescribed medication and the doctor has no idea who is receiving what.” Lambert says.

Lambert spoke at the first of four town hall meetings in St. Louis Tuesday, that aim to convince residents about the need for a prescription drug monitoring program. She has St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar on her side.

“We’ve noticed over the last few years, it’s not just recently, that there has been a remarkably increase in heroin use throughout the spectrum of society.” Belmar says.

Also at the first meeting was Howard Weissman, executive director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. They created those powerful anti-heroin Super Bowl commercials of the past couple of years.

He says besides being seen by millions during the Super Bowl, this year’s ad has been viewed nearly a half-million times online and is hopefully raising awareness.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Weissman says. “But more important than that there really has been some action around this issue for the first time in a very, very long time.”

The next meeting in the series is this Thursday at 6 p.m. at the United Way of Greater St. Louis, with more coming on March 1st and 3rd.

(TM and ? Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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