Organizations working to stop opioid epidemic wait for release of millions of dollars from the state

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 10:28 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - On International Overdose Awareness Day, thousands of families gathered around the St. Louis region to raise awareness, end the stigma and rally for much-needed funding to help combat the opioid crisis.

Outside the Jefferson County Library in High Ridge, Kathi Arbini joined other mothers, fathers, siblings and children to mourn their loved ones. Her son Kevin died of an overdose when he was 21 years old.

“It’s a piece of your heart that’s gone and it never fills back up,” said Arbini.

She has been fighting to help educate and prevent the tragedy from happening to anyone else.

In Missouri, overdoses are the leading cause of death for those ages 18-45. The numbers of deaths from substance abuse continue to rise with the majority linked to the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Organizations like Prevent ED are waiting to see how the state of Missouri will distribute millions of dollars earmarked for addiction treatment and prevention.

In February the Missouri Attorney General’s Office announced Missouri would receive $458 million from opioid lawsuit settlements.

“We would love to see some of those dollars and our services are more needed than ever before, especially our school-based prevention services,” said Nichole Dawsey, executive director of Prevent ED. “The mechanisms of what that’s going to look like and when it’s going to come out, we’re all sort of waiting with bated breath at this point.”

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office told News 4, “The Office, other attorneys general, and other stakeholders are working on finalizing details at which point payments can begin, and we believe that the first year payment could be somewhere around $15 million, which will be paid into a fund created by the legislature to be appropriated specifically to grants only for opioid abatement, treatment, and education.”

A website from the AG’s office shares information on the settlement funding.