ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — Drug overdose numbers are soaring as the pandemic looms over St. Louis City. Some of the drug use is happening in broad daylight.
The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis says they’re tackling an open-air drug market in one north St. Louis neighborhood. The section of the city is where selling and using drugs happens out in the open. One of the hot beds is on Grand and Montgomery.
St. Louis native Louis Henry, 50, is a struggling heroin addict. He’s one of hundreds on St. Louis streets who’s participating in what’s called an open-air drug market.
“No one woke up today and wanted to be a drug addict,” said Henry.
Rashonda Johnson, an Urban Engagement Specialist with the Urban League, is intervening with the hopes of slowing down drug usage and overdoses in communities in north St. Louis.
“Where drugs are bought and sold and used in the day time, the night time, all the time, 24/7,” explained Johnson.
This is being done through the organization’s Division of Public Safety and the Urban League. Since October, the Urban League has set up shop in the heart of one of the city’s open drug markets by providing Narcan and other prevention resources, connecting users with rehabilitation programs.
Johnson says overdoses related to opioid usage has increased significantly in the last year. In 2019, overdose deaths made up 17 percent, but in 2020 that number jumped to 33 percent.
“It’s very overwhelming, but I’m out here and I see it, I understand it and I know it’s true,” Johnson said.
Since the program has started. the Urban League has been able to assess nearly 200 people for rehabilitation services. More than 90 individuals have also entered into a rehab facility.
Right now, the program goes out once a week in the Kingshighway East and Jeff Vander-Lou neighborhoods.
Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved
Originally Appeared Here