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Opioid crisis in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS - On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed paperwork and took a big step to shed more light on the growing opioid crisis in America.

Last year, more than 64,000 people died as a result of opioid abuse. The numbers have grown dramatically over the last three years.

It's an epidemic that claimed the life of 22-year-old Michael Fitzwalker. His mother, Patti, found his body in the family basement in the summer of 2014. He had been battling mental illness and addiction for about five years.

"We believe what got him started on this path is when he got Xanax from a friend and he decided it made him feel good," Fitzwalker said. "We didn't realize he was abusing pain killers until we discovered he was stealing from his grandmother, who has arthritis."

While Narcan is helping to save lives, the new combinations of heroin and fentanyl are part of the problem. It's more than 50 times more potent than heroin alone.

The Fitzwalker family said more treatment options and funding is needed to fight today’s epidemic and education is the first line of defense.