The human and financial cost to the opioid epidemic has impacted St. Charles County, especially in the areas of public health, dispatch and law enforcement. In August 2018, St. Charles County filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical manufacturers and drug distributors to recoup the monies on behalf of taxpayers. The County seeks relief that includes compensatory and punitive damages for the millions of dollars of taxpayer money it spends each year to combat this public nuisance created by the drug companies’ deceptive misrepresentation of the safety and efficacy of long-term opioid use.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, there were 301 deaths due to opioid overdoses in St. Charles County from 2013 to 2017. Opioid death rates increased in our county in 2018; Fentanyl abuse, specifically, was on the rise. Even if entirely banned today, or only used for the intended purpose, thousands of county residents and millions of Americans will remain addicted to opioids, and overdoses will continue to claim lives.
St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar continues to provide education to schools and the general public about the harmful and deadly effects of opioid abuse. Through programs like C.R.U.S.H. (Community Resources United to Stop Heroin), the Speaker Series, and outreach through the Public Health Department, thousands are reached, but more funding and resources are needed.
Because of the opioid epidemic:
- The County dispatches first responders who are sent to opioid-related medical emergencies and administer naloxone (NARCAN®) pursuant to policy. The St. Charles County Police Department has and will continue to spend extraordinary resources combating illegal opioid sales, and the courts will remain burdened with opioid-related crimes. Social services and public health efforts also will continue to be stretched thin.
- The County jail population has increased, creating a need for more staff and medical services.
- Opioid-related crime has increased, necessitating the addition of more patrolling and overtime hours for the St. Charles County Police Department, as well as funding for resources such as NARCAN®.
- 911 dispatch has received more opioid-related calls for assistance.
- There has been an increasing number of drug-related cases in the County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, necessitating additional prosecutors.
Read more about the County's lawsuit and battle against opioids in the IMPACT Report to the Community.