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June 6, 2018 – In 2014, Madison County had the second-highest number of prescription painkillers in the nation. In that year, there were enough pills in the county for each person, including children, to have 126 pills each. In 2017, there were more than 17 million pills in the county Collinsville, like many other cities, has had to adjust rapidly to the opioid epidemic, which includes prescription pills, heroin and other powerful drugs.

An overabundance of pills

Eighty-seven people died in 2017 from overdoses in Madison County — or one every four days on average — according to data from Chestnut Health Systems. Of those deaths, 82 were caused by opioids. In St. Clair County, 27 of the 46 overdose-related deaths were caused by opioids. Jordan said part of the problem is doctors prescribing an unnecessary amount of prescriptions opioids. “A person goes in for a car wreck and they may need pain pills, but they give them 90 pills,” he said. “Then a 14-year-old is picking up the pills in the mom’s cabinet or grandma’s cabinet and they don’t see it as a drug.” If you lined up every pill in Madison and St. Clair counties end to end, they would stretch from St. Louis to Milwaukee — about 324 miles. This is assuming each pill is the average size and each day’s supply is only one pill. At the Collinsville Police station, a drug drop box sits in the lobby. The box is about the size of a standard mailbox.

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