Columbia police call town hall meeting to discuss rise in heroin use

Monday, May 21, 2012 | 7:52 p.m. CDT; updated 4:11 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 22, 2012

COLUMBIA — Columbia police have called a town hall meeting for Thursday evening to alert the public about the growing use of heroin in the community.

Once regarded as an urban street problem, the opiate derivative has made inroads into suburbs and small towns with devastating consequences.

Coming Wednesday

The Missourian will publish a two-part package on the growing use of heroin in Columbia and elsewhere in mid-Missouri. It will be posted online Wednesday and published in Thursday's print edition.

Part I: Why heroin overdoses are on the rise in the wake of a crackdown on prescription opiates like Oxycontin and Percocet.

Part II: How a Jefferson City family was rocked by the heroin overdose of their 20-year-old son.

Two young men died in Columbia during the past year, and police have seen at least a dozen more near-fatal overdoses, according to Jeffry Rukstad, vice detective with the Columbia Police Department who specializes in narcotics.

Thursday's emergency town hall is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. at Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, 1005 W. Worley St.

Called "Heroin: A Community Perspective," the meeting will bring together police, a drug court judge, doctors and citizens affected by heroin to outline the situation and answer questions about warning signs and resources.

Police say parents of junior high and high school children are strongly encouraged to attend.

For information: 874-7652.

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.

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