Kansas drug overdoses up 54% in first half of 2021

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Highlighting the importance of overdose prevention resources and education amid increased drug overdose deaths in 2021, Kansas Department of Health and Environment data reports at least 338 Kansas residents died of drug overdoses between January 2021 and June 2021.

In fact, the tally represents a 54% increase from the 220 drug overdose deaths reported by the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System in the same six-month time frame in 2020.

Of the 338 overdoses reported, 149 (44%) involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogs, 149 (44%) involved methamphetamines, and 40 (about 12%) involved other licit and illicit drugs, such as cocaine, benzodiazepines and prescription opioids, according to a release.

“More than one drug can be involved in a fatal drug overdose, so these values ​​are not mutually exclusive,” according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment release.

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Fentanyl has become increasingly accessible statewide, often combined with other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, and sometimes even used as a standalone drug. Fentanyl-involved overdoses have a fast onset and may be difficult to reverse due to its potency.

Chad Sabora, executive director of MO Network, previously told FOX4 that it’s practically impossible to distinguish between opiates laced with fentanyl, from those that are genuine.

“There’s really no way to tell,” Sabora told FOX4 in November. “The most important thing is not to be used alone.”

Sabora said users administering drugs in isolation should contact Never Use Alone, whose mission is to increase users’ odds of surviving an overdose. A hotline number, (800) 484-3731, offers users moderation when administering drugs alone.

“Somebody calls that line, somebody in recovery, in a non-judgmental form, will stay on the phone with them while they use,” Sabora told FOX4 in November. “Most overdoses occur within 10 to 20 minutes after use. At that point, if the person becomes unresponsive, they will call 911.”

Kansans struggling with substance use disorder can contact Kansas’s hotline at (866) 645-8216 or visit FindTreatment.gov to locate treatment services.

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To find a naloxone dispensing pharmacy near you, visit the Kansas Board of Pharmacy’s website.

“Nobody chooses to get addicted,” Sabora told FOX4 in November. “If you’re putting saccharin into your coffee this morning, are you choosing to get cancer? No. Are you engaging in activity that is going to increase your chances of unintended, negative life consequences? Without af—— doubt.”

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