By Jessica Bax, Division Director, Department of Health & Senior Services, Division of Senior & Disability Services, Jefferson City, Missouri
July 19, 2018
We have all seen the headlines about the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation. The issue is a national priority. With focus on the topic and how to combat the problem, sometimes it is easy to forget that the problem has a face and a real impact to our communities. Missouri’s Division of Senior and Disability Services prioritized the issue in 2018 by initiating efforts to identify the scope of the problem, how it is affecting the lives of those we serve, and strategies to assist individuals and communities with healing.
Earlier this year, the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) requested statistics from states on the frequency of adult abuse/neglect/exploitation hotlines relative to opioid use. As a result, Missouri initiated the use of a Significant Event Indicator “Opioid Hotline” to track hotline reports related to opioid use. Since February 13, 2018, 156 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation have involved the use and/or abuse of opioids. But as stated above, the problem is not just about the numbers.
To understand the true impact of the crisis, we have to talk to people. DSDS frontline staff witness the impact to those we serve on a daily basis. So, we asked them. This is what they had to say:
Frontline workers also had stories to tell, highlighting the face of the issue:
These stories suggest that this epidemic could touch the lives of any of us, affecting our mother, father, grandparent, sibling or other loved one. These are community problems, requiring a community effort to combat. Hearing the voices of those affected is a step in the right direction.
The National Center on Elder Abuse Director, Dr. Laura Mosqueda recognized Missouri during her Elder justice Coordinating Council meeting: Watch full video of the meeting. (her testimony begins at 17:47 min). National Adult Protective Services Association, National Policy Advisor Bill Benson’s testimony utilizing Missouri’s examples can also be viewed: (his testimony begins at 41:53-45:48 min).
This was such an incredible illustration of field voices being heard on Capitol Hill!