The rate of drug overdose deaths in Kansas has more than doubled since 1999, but the rate has gone up even more in many other states.
As a result, Kansas now has the eighth-lowest drug overdose mortality rate in the country, according to a new report from the non-profit Trust for America’s Health.
The report says the death rate from drugs—mostly prescription drugs—tripled in 10 states, and quadrupled in four others. The report also suggests 10 strategies to reduce prescription drug abuse. Only four of the 10 are currently in effect in Kansas.
But that may not be much of a factor, according to Bob Twillman. He teaches psychiatry at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and is the deputy director of the American Academy of Pain Management.
“The states that rank highly in terms of the policy initiatives are also the states that rank high in terms of overdose deaths," he says. "So I think what we’re really seeing in this report is that states that have identified that they have a problem are rushing to put policies in place, and that’s why they’ve got so many.”
Twillman says it’s going to take a few years to see what effect these new policies have on the overdose death rate. He does think several of the suggestions are promising, especially increased funding for substance abuse treatment.