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In 2013, Missouri registered 10,428 emergency room admissions because of drug overdose.

This was a 13.5 percent increase from 2010’s 9,184 data. In addition to emergency room admissions, the number of direct hospital admissions secondary to drug overdose was 3,460 in 2013, down from 3,760 in 2010. However, there were 16,573 emergency room admissions in 2013 where drug overdose was a secondary diagnosis. This was up from 2010’s 10,560 figures. In the 2015 report by Missouri’s drug treatment experts, about 419,000 Missourians have drug problems and require addiction treatment and rehabilitation.

These figures may look depressing but it has clearly spurred Missouri into rethinking its policies and attitudes towards individuals with drug addiction problems. The Missouri government now provides comprehensive drug intervention, drug treatment, and drug rehabilitation and recovery support services. The government is now working ever so closely with the many drug rehab and treatment providers in the state, community-based support service providers, and faith-based support service providers. The government is now also including in its drug intervention and treatment program special populations like pregnant women, former members of the military, teenagers, the homeless, Medicaid enrollees, and community-supervised offenders who are currently on probation or parole.

The government aims to move away from the criminalization of drug use in an effort to reach out to more individuals who need professional drug rehabilitation. It is hoped that with the move away from incarceration and more toward drug treatment more individuals will not be afraid anymore to come forward and seek help. This is one of the fundamental reasons why, despite the number of drug addiction center facilities all over the country, fewer and fewer people actually seek their services. This is because of the punitive nature of being labeled a drug addict. Drug possession is criminalized. So instead of seeking medical help, many would rather keep silent than to risk being incarcerated. Missouri aims to change all of that. That is why it is working closely with drug addiction treatment centers as well as faith-based and community-based social support groups in order to realize these aims.

Recent reports show that close to 40,000 Missourians have sought drug treatment in 2012, dipping slightly to 36,000 in 2014. Participants to community and faith-based support groups continued to increase from close to 5,000 in 2012 to almost 5,500 in 2014. Many drug rehabilitation experts agree that the decline in treatment admissions can be attributed to the increase in participation to social support groups. The report also showed that community-based drug treatment programs had resulted in fewer re-incarcerations, 9.1 percent against 30.1 percent among those who did not undergo community-based addiction treatment programs. Additionally, the report goes on to show that the average cost of incarceration per person in 2014 was US$ 19,925 while community-based drug treatment programs only cost US$ 1,778 per person.

Perhaps one of the more promising signs that Missouri’s drug treatment interventions are working is that many of the recipients do not cycle in and out of the drug treatment and rehabilitation program. Sixty-nine out of 100 rehabilitees have successfully hurdled their first year of post-treatment and drug rehab without relapse.

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