DEA Joins with Families Across the Country to Increase Awareness about the Dangers of Fentanyl
ST. LOUIS – This week the Drug Enforcement Administration hosted regional family summits across the country in support of those who have lost loved ones to drug poisonings. The DEA St. Louis Division hosted its summit Nov. 16, at the Church of the Resurrection, in Leawood, Kansas.
The St. Louis Division invited more than 100 family members from across the division, from southern Illinois, Missouri and Kansas, with 43 arriving Wednesday morning. This is the first undertaking of its kind for the division and built off the momentum of this summer’s Inaugural Family Summit hosted at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Va.
“Drug poisonings are killing Americans at an unprecedented rate,” noted Special Agent in Charge Michael A. Davis, head of the St. Louis Division. “We brought families together with the hope DEA and groups dedicated to reducing deaths from deadly drugs could help them learn how to build awareness and take action, and maybe to save others from being hurt by illicit drugs.”
DEA speakers discussed the extent of the drug threat and walked attendees through overdose death investigations. Midwest HIDTA presented information about the Overdose Response Strategy and provided resources for developing programs. Family members also attended breakout sessions to learn more about youth engagement, community outreach and advocacy, hosted by experts including St. Louis’s PreventEd and Kansas City’s First Call, as well as organizations founded by families: Keepin’ Clean for Coop, HEAL: Stop Heroin, Shatterproof, and MONet.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram delivered remarks at Thursday’s Family Summit in Washington, D.C.
“The Justice Department will never give up in our effort to protect American lives,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. “We will continue to work tirelessly to get deadly drugs -- including fentanyl -- out of our communities. And through today’s Family Summit, we will help prevent future tragedies. Your stories and your participation are indispensable to the success of this effort. We are humbled to do this work alongside you, and we stand with you in honor of your loved ones.”
“The passion, commitment and incredible work these families are doing to prevent others from experiencing the profound pain of losing a loved one to a fentanyl poisoning inspires all of us at DEA. They have made it their mission to save lives. Their efforts are, and will remain, an integral part of DEA’s outreach, prevention and education programs,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “The family summits are one of the ways DEA is working to meet this moment.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 107,622 people died by drug poisoning in the United States in 2021. A majority of drug poisoning deaths are attributed to synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.
The DEA regional family summits gather families who are passionate about saving lives through increased public awareness of fentanyl. These summits allow DEA to listen and learn from families as they share their personal stories. Additionally, the summits provide participants information on national drug threats and resources available to enhance local prevention efforts.
If you or someone you know needs help with substance use or mental health disorders, please visit DEA’s Recovery Resources page for list of resources.