St. Louis, Missouri 2021-06-18 22:56:00 –
ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com)-Drug overdose is skyrocketing as the pandemic approaches the city of St. Louis. Part of substance use happens during the daytime.
The Metropolitan St. Louis Urban League states that it is working on an open-air drug market in a district north of St. Louis. Part of the city is where drugs are sold and used outdoors. One of the hotbeds is in Grand and Montgomery.
Originally from St. Louis, Louis Henry, 50, is a struggling heroin addict. He is one of the hundreds of people on the streets of St. Louis participating in the so-called open-air drug market.
“No one woke up today and wanted to be a drug addict,” Henry said.
Urban Engagement Specialist in the Urban League, Rachon Da Johnson, is intervening in the hope of delaying drug use and overdose in the northern St. Louis community.
“A place where drugs are bought and sold 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, day and night,” Johnson explained.
This is done through the organization’s public security department and the Urban League. Since October, the Urban League has set up a shop in the heart of the city’s open drug market by providing Narcan and other preventative resources and linking users with rehab programs.
Johnson says overdose associated with opioid use increased significantly last year. In 2019, overdose deaths accounted for 17%, but by 2020 that number surged to 33%.
“It’s very overwhelming, but I’m here, seeing it, understanding it, and knowing it’s true,” Johnson said.
Since the program started. The Urban League was able to rate nearly 200 people for rehabilitation services. More than 90 individuals are also in the rehabilitation facility.
Currently, the program runs weekly in the Kings Highway East and Jeff Vandalu districts.
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