WEBSTER COUNTY, Mo. – Preventing substance misuse was the topic of conversation Thursday in Webster County.

Health leaders, including federal health officials, presented information to the community about how to tackle the issue in more rural areas.

“We have issues in the urban center of our county in Marshfield,” said Scott Allen, Webster County Health Administrator. “We have issues in some of the very rural areas. One of the things that are goals of this coalition is to bring together those community members from across the different parts of our county to help address those individual communities.”

Allen said a survey conducted in schools helps give them some direction about what needs to be addressed.

“Most of the respondents in Webster County said that, and this is youth ages 6 to 12, that they can easily get their hands on prescription medications to misuse,” said Allen. “Probably about a third of students who had responded said they had actually, within the last 30 days, misused prescription medications. They took medicine that was prescribed to someone other than them. That’s a huge issue for us.”

Soon, more prescription drug take-back boxes will be installed in various towns. Leaders said substance abuse can affect anyone.

“People think that it happens to a certain person in a certain demographic, in a certain place,” said Steve Miller with the Mid-America Prevention Technology Transfer Center Network. “Substance misuse or mental health issues can target or happen in anyone’s life.”

Kim Nelson, the Regional Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said a big topic Thursday was mental health and suicide prevention.

Nelson said preventing substance misuse hits close to home.

“I got into recovery from substance use,” said Nelson. “I’ve been in recovery since.”

The hope is to help bring more services to the county.