KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that drug overdose deaths are rising in both Kansas and Missouri, even though nationally the numbers are down.
First Call, a drug prevention and recovery center, predicts the situation may get even worse here before it gets better.
The opioid abuse epidemic started on the coasts and has been slowly working its way into the heartland.
In Missouri, the overwhelming majority of the state's drug overdose deaths last year were concentrated in the St. Louis area. That's why centers like First Call are bracing themselves for a surge in opioid abuse cases in the metro area, as the drug use trend spreads west.
Kansas reports that more than eight out of ten drug overdoses in recent years involve prescription medications.
"If you look at what’s happened in St. Louis, I would love to say it’s not going to happen in Kansas City, but if you look at the national trends, it looks like it’s coming," said Margaux Guignon, prevention services director for First Call. "Hopefully we can be proactive about it. But if we are following the trend of the rest of the country, we are going to get hit hard."
Missouri is the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program and centers such as First Call believe that makes it easier for people to get prescriptions for highly addictive pain killers.
Guignon also says doctors in the metro write more prescriptions for pain killers than doctors in other areas of the nation, as more physicians are pulling back to prevent misuse.
Kansas City may not be prepared to handle a spike in opioid addicts. There are treatment centers, but in some cases you may have to wait two weeks to get into a program. Many may never return for that help.