Opioid use is a growing concern in communities across Missouri, including the state's colleges and universities.

 

The rate of hospitalizations and emergency department visits due to opioid use has increased dramatically in the past decade. Research shows that prescription opioid use may be a precursor to heroin use.

 

Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order in July 2017 that creates a statewide prescription drug monitoring program to help fight opioid abuse.

 

Partners in Prevention

 

For the past five years, Missouri Partners in Prevention coalition - a group of 21 public and private colleges in Missouri - has been educating college students about a number of health and safety issues, including dangers related to the use of prescription pain medications. The group conducts the Missouri Assessment of College Health Behaviors each year to better understand the use of alcohol and drugs, mental health, and safety issues among college students.

 

Overdose reversal and drug 'take-back' days

 

Partners in Prevention is working with the Mo-HOPE project at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health to provide naloxone to first responders, including campus safety, police and residence hall staff, on Missouri college campuses. Naloxone is a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose.

 

The coalition's MoSafeRx program has worked to provide drug disposal boxes and planned "take-back" days for opioids and other prescription drugs on Missouri's college campuses. The group also has worked with university health centers and pharmacies on issues related to over-prescribing prescription pain medications.

 

Opioid use on campus

 

According to Partners in Prevention, heroin use and the misuse of prescription pain medication remains relatively low on college campuses. According to a 2017 study, 0.4 percent of students used heroin, and 4.4 percent of students misused prescription drugs during the previous year. However, it is important to continue to educate students about the risks of opioid use and provide help for students dealing with addiction.

 

Research brief: Opioid use by Missouri College Students

 

For more information about Partners in Prevention, visit http://pip.missouri.edu/.