Missouri — There is a new initiative in Missouri to help combat the opioid epidemic. Connecting the Dots: Drug Overdose, Trust, and Safety initiative is funded by a federal grant that will target drug problem areas in our state.

Connecting the DOTS outreach coordinator Liz Connors said nine counties account for nearly 82% of all Missouri’s fatal overdoses. Jackson, Clay, Greene, Boone, Jefferson, Franklin, St. Charles, St. Louis city and St. Louis county have the most fatal drug overdoses.

Connors has been working in the heroin epidemic field for 11 years.  She said progress is being made with some of the front-line programs she has been a part of in the past.

The Dots Project will go into 3 counties a year for three years.  Financial costs are burdensome and DOTS Project is feeling some resistance from the hardest hit counties. All three counties this year though have been receptive to the collaborative efforts and training.

One financial burden is the supply of Narcan, which is used by first responders to bring back to life the overdosed person.

Connors is hopeful that these counties will continue to work together sharing and implementing programs. She said opioid addiction has a ripple effect that extends far beyond the addict.

Connecting the DOTS  is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.