Health

Your health can be affected by so many things. Genetics, diet, stress, the people around you - just to name a few.

Dr. Kyler Sherman Wilkins, assistant professor of sociology at Missouri State University, is a social demographer who is interested in the distribution of health in Americans.

SmartSign, Flickr

Recent statistics show that about one in four adults in southwest Missouri is a tobacco user—that’s nearly 10% above the national average.

Valerie Howard at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said that’s also higher than the statewide average.

“22% of adult Missourians are tobacco users. About 1 in 4 in southwest Missouri specifically is 24.5%. Southwest Missouri has the highest adult usage rate in the state by region,” Howard told KSMU. 

Jennifer Moore / KSMU

Drive down a dirt road in Dallas County, under a thick canopy of walnut trees and over three cattle guards, and you’ll come to Rachel Harrison’s home in Windyville, Missouri.  

A few years ago, Harrison was using her Bachelor’s degree in biology in a hospital laboratory.

“I was a generalist, which means I was in charge of urinalysis, chemistry, special chemistry, hematology, blood banking, coagulation, I think I got it all—phlebotomy, all that kind of stuff,” Harrison said.

But at age 25, she began to hear what sounded like people talking.

Jennifer Moore / KSMU

In the Missouri capitol building in Jefferson City, Representative Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, has been trying for half a decade to get Missouri to establish a PDMP, or Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

That’s an electronic records database that would allow prescribers—doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, and anyone who can prescribe narcotics—to pull up on a screen in the exam room that shows what medicines that patient has been prescribed, and when.

Missouri is the only state where medical professionals don’t have the option of using such a database.

Dierk Schaefer / Flickr

One in every twelve kids in Greene County between 6th and 12th grades is misusing prescription drugs—that’s according to the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Behavioral Health Profile. And take a guess at the average age for taking that first sip of alcohol: here in Greene County, it’s 13 years old.

All this week, we’re looking at what substance abuse means for our region. 

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