“Opioid analgesics were a contributing factor in 22 (17.9%) of the poisoning deaths in 1999, rising to 127 (36.6%) of the poisoning deaths in 2009 … Since 2001, opioid analgesics have contributed to more deaths than heroin, cocaine, and benzodiazepine combined.”
– Kansas Health Statistics Report. 2012; 52: 1
Opioid overuse is higher in the Midwest than in any other region. The region’s rate of hospital inpatient stays related to opioid use has increased by 9.1% each year since 1993, according to a 2014 brief from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Opioid addiction levels in Kansas have been rising, too. However, the state could lower opioid misuse by implementing abuse-deterrent measures.
Addiction often starts with legally prescribed drugs. For every 100 Kansans, doctors write 93.8 prescriptions for opioid pain relievers, according to a 2014 NPR article. Opioid misuse can lead to hospitalization and death. In Kansas, opioid analgesics are second only to cocaine and amphetamines in causing hospitalization due to poisoning, according to the 2012 Kansas Health Statistics Report.
With involvement from the state government, the rates of opioid addiction and death could decrease. Some states have pain clinic laws that require supervision from the state and set other criteria in the operation of pain clinics. Kansas could enact such a law. The state could also offer more funding and encouragement toward treating opioid addiction. “In a single-day count in 2013, 2,077 individuals in Kansas were receiving methadone as part of their substance use treatment, and 207 were receiving buprenorphine,” according to the 2014 SAMHSA Behavioral Health Barometer for Kansas. These treatments should be expanded.
Although opioid addiction and misuse continue to rise in Kansas, there are steps the state government can implement to stop the deadly trend.