Walking to End the Stigma, a substance use disorder awareness walk, will take place this Saturday, July 24. Participants will walk from the Missouri Veterans Home in St. James to John F. Hodge High School and back.
The walk will begin at 10 a.m. in the Veteran’s Home parking lot. Presented by the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) Rural Opioid Initiative and the Mid-MO Addiction Awareness Group, the goal is to educate, increase awareness, and identify prevention strategies of mitigating the growing threat of substance abuse.
“In an effort to combat the growing problem of opioid use disorder, MRPC was awarded grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Department of Justice, and AmerisourceBergen Bergen Foundation to provide education, awareness, and prevention strategies within MRPC’s eight-county region,” according to information provided through MRPC’s website. “MRPC does this through two separate consortiums—the Meramec Regional Opioid Program and the Opioid Affected Youth Initiative.”
The opioid epidemic in Missouri’s Meramec Region has been growing in recent years, with five of the eight counties in the Meramec Region listed as priority areas by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and are among the counties with the highest opioid-related deaths in the state, according to MRPC. Over the last five years, 695 deaths were recorded in this area.
This led MRPC to start the two major initiatives to help begin to spread education and solutions involving substance abuse.
MRPC Region Rural Opioid Program is a consortium aimed at reducing the morbidity and mortality rates related to opioid overdoses in rural communities. Events such as the awareness walk is one way MRPC is hoping to get information out to local communities to help combat the growing number of substance abuse situations. The consortium includes Your Community Health Center, the Phelps-Maries County Health Department, Prevention Consultants of Missouri, and Invent Yourself, LLC.
Similarly, the Meramec Region’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative is a three-year cooperative award with U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to help identify and address challenges resulting from opioid misuse that is impacting youth in these communities.
This Saturday’s walk is one more step MRPC is taking to get information into the community and to highlight the many challenges related to the opioid epidemic affecting this region. Those interested in participating can meet at the veteran’s home parking lot, located at 620 North Jefferson Street, to begin the walk. The event is free of charge.
For more information regarding MRPC Rural Opioid Initiative, visit www.meramecregion.org/mrpc-rural-opioid-inititative to learn about the ongoing programs.