Lewis Reed Predicts Passage of Plan to Help Overdose Victims

The city resonds to some 2,000 overdose cases each year.

Kevin Killeen
October 25, 2018 - 5:04 pm
Prescription pain RX medication pills spilled out of an amber pharmacy medicine bottle on a pharmacy counter

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The city of St. Louis is struggling with what to do with hundreds of drug overdose survivors -- some of them repeat victims -- after they wake up.

For the year, the fire department reports it's averaging about 10 ambulance runs every day to respond to drug overdoses. So far this year, paramedics have revived 1,887 people, while another 146 have died of opiod-related overdoses.

The revival drug that brings them back, Narcan, is expensive.

It's estimated city taxpayers will end up paying $150,000 this year for Narcan.

Right now, when overdose victims are revived, they have the option of going to the hospital, where they would receive drug treatment and other follow-up care. But many refuse to go to the hospital. And after they're back on their feet, many return to drugs.

The Board of Aldermen is debating a bill that would authorize the city to receive a $1 million Department of Justice grant to help overdose survivors get drug treatment and other services, even if they refuse to go the hospital.

"This program will make a difference," said Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, "and it can help people in their recovery and help them get off of drugs."

The grant would pay for a Community Resources Response Team that would help overdose survivors get drug treatment, housing and job training after they come back to life.

The final wording of the bill is expected to be approved Friday, and then it could gain final passage next Friday. 

The DOJ is spending $162 million to fund the program through grants in cities around the country.