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The Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery (MNORR) held their second annual Overdose Awareness Day Thursday evening at Engler Park in Farmington.

Families of overdose victims and addiction survivors consoled and encouraged each other and educated the community about opioid and other drug addictions.

Cheryl Haws and Felicia Chapman organized the event and there were several guest speakers, a balloon release and a tribute.

“My son, he’s sober right now. I thank God every day for that,” Haws said. “One of the things we learn with addiction is we still have to worry about it every day, it doesn’t ever go away. I started this group, it will be three years in October. I did it because my son was in active addiction, he’s been in prison a few times. I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t have any idea what to do for him.”

Chapman read a statement that she had written explaining her own struggles with Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

“I have SUD,” she said. “I will always have SUD. My cravings for my drug of choice are as strong now as they were in active addiction. I have to adapt a lifestyle that protects me from my own addiction. I have had to try to make amends and learn new coping skills along the way. I have had to be transparent and honest at all times in my recovery. This is what keeps me safe, and I am learning new ways each and every day to keep drug free. I have been clean now 3 years, 4 months, and 17 days, and I chose recovery on April 12, 2016.”

Pharmacist Chuck Jones is the pharmacy manager at the Farmington Walmart. He quoted statistics and talked about the issues he faces as a pharmacist in dispensing medications.

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“Addiction hits everyone,” he said. “Forty eight million Americans are addicted to either opioids or illicit drugs or a combination of. Ninety five percent of all hydrocodone in the world is used by Americans. In 2017, six times more people died than they did in 1999 from opioid overdose.

“As a pharmacist, I see patients of all ages, types, income levels, it hits everyone, it’s not something to take lightly. I talked to a DEA agent about a month ago and he asked about my dispensing habits and what I am looking for. [He asked] what pain stories are you getting to make sure it is not an addiction or dependence or tolerance. He asked questions like ‘why do you have this patient that’s been on it for eight years?’

"We are getting a lot of heat as pharmacists and we are a part of the corresponding responsibility with physicians. I have conversations with doctors all of the time about the dispensing and the combinations of drugs, and I worry about the patient.”

Jones stressed the importance of disposing of expired and unused drugs instead of leaving them in the medicine cabinet.

“Two thousand people that died in 2018 from opioid overdose, it was old medications in medicine cabinets,” he said. “It wasn’t the patient, it was friends and family that came in.”

For more information, contact Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery at 844-rebelup, or www.monetwork.org. Group meetings are every Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. at the East Missouri Action Agency.

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Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at mmarberry@farmingtonpressonline.com

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