Missouri attorney general says state needs urgent action to combat opioid crisis

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One out of every 65 deaths in Missouri are related to opioids, according to Attorney General Eric Schmitt. Addiction recovery specialists at Swope Health Services told the state's top lawyer that urgent action is needed to stop an epidemic affecting all corners of the state.

Statistics show 140 people die every day in this country from opioid overdoses. The attorney general has been touring the state, gathering ideas on how best to end the health crisis.

Missouri expects to receive millions of dollars as part of a settlement in a lawsuit against drug makers for misrepresenting the addictive nature of opioids. And the state wants to be ready to spend that money in a way that supports individual recovery and expands treatment and prevention services.

"There’s no one silver bullet," Schmitt said. "But I think having an understanding of what has been effective, what works, we want to be responsible with those dollars. Make sure they are going where they need to go."

Swope Health professionals advocated for more recovery housing to support addicts, like Kansas City has in Healing House. The non-profit has turned abandoned crack houses into sober living environments.

Healing House has 15 homes across the city with 188 beds, but still turns away 50 people a week.

Police also discussed the need to separate victims from suspects in the opioid crisis. Detectives say too often prosecutors are overwhelmed with cases where individuals should be referred for treatment, instead of charged with a crime.

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