County Opioid Awareness Walk held in Steelville

    The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) Rural Opioid Initiatives, the Meramec Region’s Rural Opioid Program (MRROP) and Opioid Affected Youth Initiative (OAYI), in partnership with Mid-MO Addiction Awareness Group (MAAG) hosted an opioid use disorder awareness walk in Steelville.

    The walk provided awareness for opioid use disorder. MRPC’s rural opioid initiatives work to educate, increase awareness and identify prevention strategies for opioid use disorder throughout the Meramec Region for youth, children, families and adults. Resource information was available at the walk.
    Participants met at the Steelville Schools Administration Building and traveled down Main Street to a water stop in the community parking lot by Dollar General. Participants will then returned to the administration building, following the same route.
    “We are excited to work with MAAG to bring SUD awareness walks to our region,” said Bonnie Prigge, executive director of MRPC. “From 2015-2019, 41 people in Crawford County died of drug overdoses. Twenty-seven of those were opioid overdoses. When we look at Crawford and its neighboring counties of Gasconade, Phelps, Dent, and Washington, there were 186 overdose deaths for that timeframe with 110 of those deaths being opioid overdoses.”
    Statistics for 2020 are not yet finalized, Prigge added.
    “Those who lose their lives to opioids are only a small portion of those who suffer from Substance Use Disorder, and it has a tremendous impact on families and communities,” Prigge said. “The purpose of the walk is making others aware of SUD in our communities as MRPC and its partners look for solutions that will aid with prevention, treatment and recovery.”
    MAAG’s mission is to raise community awareness, share accurate information and break the stigma that surrounds substance use disorder.
    “SUD awareness walks bring light to the issue of substance use disorder to the communities where they take place,” said Christa Harmon, MRPC community development specialist assistant. “We walk together, not ashamed of our loved ones who suffer from SUD. We walk together to be a voice for those who have lost their lives due to overdose. We walk together to show recovery can happen.”
    MRPC is in the third year of a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to collectively reduce the morbidity and mortality rate related to opioid overdoses in our rural communities. This grant is specific to Crawford, Dent, Maries and Phelps counties.
    This awareness walk was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $738,500 with zero percentage financed with non-governmental sources.
    OAYI is a three-year cooperative award through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The project was created to develop data-driven, coordinated responses to identify and address challenges, resulting from opioid misuse, that is impacting youth and community safety in the eight-county Meramec Region.
    OAYI’s mission is to educate youth and families on opioid-misuse prevention and serve as a conduit to expand availability and knowledge of intervention and recovery programs in the Meramec Region of Missouri.
    Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. Gasconade County Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel serves as chairman of the board.
    A professional staff of 34 offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.