Drug recovery advocates are at the Missouri Capitol today asking legislators to support the creation of a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. The Missouri House has given preliminary approval today to the legislation championed by Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeson.

State Rep. Holly Rehder speaks on the Missouri House floor on March 15, 2018 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Kathi Arbini of eastern Missouri’s Fenton is among the advocates. She says her son, Kevin, died in 2009 of a Xanax and heroin overdose. Arbini’s mission today is to prevent parents from burying their children.

“I think it shows him (Kevin) how much I loved him,” she says with a quivering voice. “He was 21 – my only child. Which doesn’t make it worse or make it better. It just what it is. I feel this was his journey. If I had to do it again, I’d probably do it different. Years ago, you were angry at him. I didn’t know it was a disease like I know now. I know you wrote a big, humungous check, sent them away to rehab, they came back normal again.”

Many people in the drug recovery community call her “mom” because she looks out for them.

“I support them. We help them get in recovery. We give them anything that they need. We have sober living,” Arbini says. “We have psychiatrists and psychologists. Sometimes moms and dads just need hugs. We do that too. I’ve learned in this life of mine now to help other people is my saving grace.”

Arbini says Kevin covered up his addiction well and fought the battle for about three years.

“He fought and fought and it just didn’t work out. I’ll be honest with you, we didn’t know he was fighting until the last year. He hid it. His dad and I were divorced,” Arbini says. “What he did at one house, he did something different at the other house. We were never really on the same page with him. One year he was Student of the Year and still in his active addiction. So, it was hard for us to figure out.”

Opponents of the measure say the program would not help Missourians with drug problems and Missourians should not have their personal information subjected to potential data breaches.

Missouri is the only state in the nation without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program to look for cases of misuse. Many Missouri counties have created their own programs.

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