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Kansas Takes a Leading Role in Fight Against Opioid Use Among the Justice-Involved

by KDOC News — last modified Jun 05, 2017 02:06 PM
Lt. Gov. Dr. Colyer, state agencies selected to participate in nationwide study of best practices


MEDIA RELEASE

June 5, 2017                                    


  Kansas Takes a Leading Role in Fight Against Opioid Use Among the Justice-Involved
Lt. Gov. Dr. Colyer, state agencies selected to participate in nationwide study of best practices

Kansas and seven other states have been selected by the National Governors Association (NGA) as leaders in the fight against the growing issue of opioid abuse nationwide. The pilot group will focus on reducing opioid use among people involved with the criminal justice system.

The Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC), in partnership with Lt. Gov. Dr. Jeff Colyer and the Kansas Department on Aging and Disabilities (KDADS), was awarded a grant to participate in the NGA Center for Best Practices Learning Lab, an eight-month project devoted to developing strategies for the entire nation to apply to the opioid-use crisis.

Dr. Colyer, a practicing physician, is committed to reducing the abuse of prescription medications in Kansas. Drug poisoning deaths due to opioids in Kansas increased by 28 percent from 2013 to 2015, making it the leading cause of specific drug poisoning deaths in the state, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

“The important work being done by KDOC and KDADS is crucial to balancing the availability of physician-prescribed medications and controlling the misuse of prescription drugs, said Dr. Colyer. “With the number of deaths continuing to rise at an alarming rate, this problem must be addressed.”

Criminal offenders being a group of particular concern in the fight against opioid use, KDOC applied to participate in the learning lab entitled Expanding Access to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Justice-Involved Populations.

“The fact that we were one of just eight states chosen to participate shows that we have been doing innovative work in this area and are seen as a leader,” KDOC Sec. Joe Norwood said.

At least 15 percent of the more than 6,000 offenders leaving Kansas prisons every year have a history of opioid misuse and/or a diagnosis of opioid use disorder. Substance misuse on a larger scale plagues the Kansas prison/parole population.

A team including staff from KDOC, KDADS and Dr. Colyer’s office is representing the state June 5 and 6 at a conference in Boston at which the eight states have come together to discuss their contributions to the study. The gathering in Boston will be followed by numerous conference calls, webinars and sharing of data. In January 2018 the states will report to NGA on results and future plans.

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