Local opioid overdose numbers increase in Jasper and Newton Counties

Heroin being cut with Fentanyl, resulting in overdose deaths

JASPER COUNTY, Mo. -“Putting band-aids on bullet holes.” It’s a phrase Alissa Hendricks has used to describe the fight against substance abuse and opioid addiction in her district which serves Newton and McDonald counties.

“When we’ve lost a young life, someone who is 18 years old and barely just starting to live, it makes it really difficult,” said Hendricks, Treatment Court Administrator with the 40th Judicial Circuit.

So far, since the beginning of the year, two people in Hendrick’s district have died from an overdose, and that’s two too many. With more young people becoming exposed to substances at an early age, though, fighting this epidemic is an uphill battle.

“We’re starting to see kids as young as 6th grade who are starting to use substance, alcohol, marijuana, etc.”

Hendricks says it’s a slippery slope as teens move on to pills, meth or heroin. While some kids might think pills are safer, they’re not.

“A lot of times kids believe that because it comes from a doctor, or they found it in their parent’s medicine cabinet, that it’s not dangerous and that’s far from the truth,” said Hendricks.

New data released by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior services shows 1,094 Missourians died from an opioid overdose in 2019, down 3.4% from the year before. But, over the past four months, Jasper County has experienced an increase in opioid overdoses.

“We’re finding that most of the individuals who are overdosing were intending to use heroin, but instead it’s all Fentanyl,” explained Nathan Honeycutt with Ozark Center New Directions.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid drug used in the treatment of severe pain that can be 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin, depending on the batch.

“Drug dealers don’t care about you, they care about your money and so if they can rip you off somehow, they’re gonna do that…and that’s a real problem with pills right now. A lot of our kids and adults are susceptible too…they don’t know what they’re actually getting,” said Hendricks.

If you or someone you know needs help fighting substance abuse or opioid addiction, you can learn more here.