Fighting Addiction and a Pandemic to Keep St. Louis’ Unhoused Alive

Fighting Addiction and a Pandemic to Keep St. Louis’ Unhoused Alive

Publication date: May 28, 2020

The park, which stands at the corner of Cabanne Avenue and Goodfellow Boulevard in the West End neighborhood of north St. Louis, consists of a small patch of grass surrounding a large playground in a neighborhood marked by vacant buildings.

A tall man nicknamed “Swoop,” his hair held together in a series of cascading braids, approaches the van tentatively, his movements halting and cautious as the latest hit of heroin crawls through his veins.

Standing at the front of the line are Miles Hoffman and Jen Nagel, staff members of the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery, or MoNetwork, located at 4022 South Broadway in south St. Louis.

Hoffman and Nagel eagerly engage with the men, smoothly reaching for simple black backpacks, known as Harm Reduction Kits, which they fill with a long list of items calculated to keep their customers alive for another week.

Hoffman, himself a recovering opiate user, says he wants to bring more resources to north St. Louis residents struggling with drug dependance and homelessness.

Which is why he takes the MoNetwork van to the spots around St. Louis where he knows they’re likely to find unhoused people.

About the time he went into recovery a couple years ago, Hoffman says, the market for illegal opiates went from prescription painkillers to much more powerful opiates, such as heroin and fentanyl.

“Things have kind of changed .. . the supply had changed, and the drugs had changed, but the people hadn’t,” Hoffman says.

It’s impossible to understand homelessness and drug use in isolation from other big-picture issues, such as access to health care and how people interact with police, Hoffman notes.

Concepts Keywords
Addiction Drugs
Bottled Water Psychoactive drugs
Broadway Opioids
Chronic Depression RTT
Concrete Morphinans
Depression Drug policy
Disposable Gloves Substance abuse
Drug Abuse Euphoriants
Drug Overdose Harm reduction
Epidemic Naloxone
Fentanyl Heroin
Gait Opiate
Hand Sanitizer
Hypodermic Needle
Illegal Opiates
Social Services
Social Structure
Tall Man
United States
West End


Type Source Name
disease MESH men
disease MESH neighborhood
disease MESH gait
drug DRUGBANK Diamorphine
disease MESH depression
disease MESH sitting
drug DRUGBANK Water
drug DRUGBANK Etoperidone
drug DRUGBANK Ethanol
drug DRUGBANK Naloxone
disease MESH homelessness
drug DRUGBANK Fentanyl
disease MESH access to health care
disease MESH drug abuse

Original Article

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