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  • ChristinaK.

Hometown Heroin

October 17-21st is National Health Education Week!

The driving force of National Health Education Week is to understand what health issues directly affect any given demographic area, then provide the necessary tools for the effected communities to utilize. Majestic Home Healthcare is proud to call Saint Louis it's hometown, but we are saddened at the many issues that plague our beloved city. But an issue that has garnered national attention cannot be ignored. The Saint Louis Heroin Epidemic.

Heroin is defined as, "an opioid pain killer. Historically heroin was used as anesthesia but today heroin is used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects". Since 2007, opiate related deaths in St.Louis and its surrounding counties has tripled. According to the CDC, the Midwest has encountered more heroin related deaths than anywhere else in the country, and four times as many deaths in 2013 than it did in 2000.

After showing up on the doorstep of Suburban America, it is no longer the "inner city" back alley nights boasting older users shooting up, or the glamorization of "heroin chic" models that were once touted in the 1990's. The new addict is quite possibly classmates with your high school aged son or daughter, or perhaps roommates with your 20 year old that is away at college. Other changes have occurred as well, such as the administering of heroin. As opposed to injecting or "mainlining" the drug to get the best possible high, the generation of users are now readily snorting this potent poison. Not only has the purity of the drug changed, along with the stereotype of said user, but also the availability of this killer drug. A drug whose purity was once a meager 11%, can now be found on the streets with a minimum purity level of 42%, and can be as high as 92%. Heroin doses of such high purity have a staggering probability of being lethal. Heroin and similar opiates slow down breathing, limits alertness, promotes confusion, and even unconsciousness.

So what is being done to stave off this epidemic? Per Special Agent Jim Shroba of the Midwest Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency, “We’re looking at heroin traffickers at all levels that are responsible not only for the distribution of heroin but they’re the ones behind weapons trafficking and the crime that affects small communities, whether that’s in the city or out in O’Fallon or St. Peters,” said Shroba. To Shroba of the DEA, the goal is to reduce the number of overdose deaths and decrease the availability of the drug in the region. Not every drug dealer will wind up in prison and not every heroin user will die of an overdose. Bridging the gap between life and death is one that involves advocacy on the public's part. It is absolutely imperative that communities push for proper education on this drug, other's in it's class, warning signs, as well as what underlying opiod use disorders. There are plenty of cases of heroin drug use where the user is self-medicating to treat a metal illness. We ALL need to be educated and share the knowledge about the importance of properly diagnosing and treating mental illness as a means of eradicating even a small portion of addicts. Heroin does not discriminate. It blurs the lines between race, class, and religion. Take a stand and save a life.


Heroin overdose affects a number of different body parts and systems. Some of these effects are more obvious than others. Warning signs include:

  • Bluish nails or lips.

  • Depressed breathing.

  • Weak pulse.

  • Pinpoint pupils.

  • Disorientation or delirium.

  • Extreme drowsiness.

  • Repeated episodes of loss of consciousness.

  • Coma.


  • Behavioral Health Response - 24/7 Crisis Hotline - 800-811-4760

  • Crider health Center (St. Charles County Residents) - 636-332-6000

  • SSM Behavioral health Services, Central Intake/Assessment and Referral Center - 800 426-2083

  • Bridgeway Behavioral Health - 866-758-1152

  • MO Community Mental Health Liaison - 800-811-4760

  • Provident Life Crisis Services - 247 Hotline - 800-273-8255

  • Narcotics Anonymous - 24/7 Helpline - 314-830-3232

  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse - 314-962-3456

  • BJC Behavioral Health (St. Louis County Residents) - 314-729-4004 (day); 314-469-6644 (Night)

  • Preferred Family Healthcare - 636-946-6376 (Day); 800-964-7118 (Night)


  • 1-800-999-9999 National Directory of Hotlines and Crisis Intervention Centers

  • 1-800-662-HELP Drug and Alcohol Rehab/Treatment Referral Service

  • Alcoholics Anonymous 24 hour helplines by zip code

  • Narcotics Anonymous hotlines and helplines

  • 1-800-356-9996 Al-Anon & Alateen crisis line

  • 1-800-COCAINE National Cocaine Hotline, 24-hour counseling and referral

  • 1-800-9-HEROIN National Heroin Hotline

  • 1-888-MARIJUA National Marijuana Hotline

  • 1-800-273-TALK National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  • 1-800-WORKPLACE Drug-Free Workplace Help


  1. Centers for Disease Control. (2015). Today’s Heroin Epidemic.

St.Louis Public Radio

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