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Kansas is again expanding its efforts to reduce opioid abuse, this time concentrating on the people involved in the criminal justice system.

The National Governors Association has selected Kansas and seven other states to participate in a nationwide study of best practices. It's an eight-month project to develop strategies for the entire nation.

The concentration will be on the criminal justice population. Fifteen percent of the more than 6,000 people leaving Kansas prisons every year have a history of opioid misuse and/or a diagnosis of opioid use disorder.

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Kansans safely disposed of more than eight tons of unused medicines during last week’s National Drug Take-Back Day, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.

Kansas law enforcement officers collected 16,314 pounds of medicines at more than 100 locations throughout the state during last Saturday’s event, according to a report from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. This was the largest single-day of collection since the semi-annual program began in 2010, far surpassing the 13,894 pounds collected in April 2016.

Law enforcement officers in Kansas and across the country will be collecting unused, expired and leftover medications on Saturday.

It’s an initiative called the National Drug Take-Back Day.

The drug collection events are a way to safely dispose of leftover and expired medications to prevent accidental or intentional misuse.

Studies show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

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The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) has received a grant for over $3.1 million to use in the treatment and prevention of opioid abuse.

Eighty percent of the grant money will be used for treatment and recovery and 20 percent for prevention, intervention and public education.

KDADS reports that Kansas is the 16th highest opioid prescribing state in the country. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says that between 2013 and 2015, deaths from opioid overdose increased 28 percent and deaths from heroin use went up by 71 percent.

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Kansas is one of only three states that does not allow first responders to carry a drug to reverse opioid overdoses. A bill unanimously approved by the Kansas House on Thursday would change that.

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Kansas is one of three states that doesn’t allow first responders to carry a drug to reverse opioid overdoses.

Rep. Greg Lakin, a Republican from Wichita, wants to get the state off that exclusive list. A bill in the House Health and Human Services Committee would allow first responders to carry medication to reverse opioid overdoses.

Under current Kansas law, doctors can only prescribe overdose-reversing drugs to a person who is at risk of an overdose, such as someone using opioids for chronic pain.

Abigail Beckman / KMUW

A local non-profit coalition hoping to curtail prescription and illicit drug and alcohol abuse came together Tuesday to spread the word about prevention and renew their efforts.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

A doctor handed Melissa Morris her first opioid prescription when she was 20 years old.

She had a cesarean section to deliver her daughter, and to relieve post-surgical pain her doctor sent her home with Percocet. On an empty stomach, she took one pill and laid down on her bed.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh my god. Is this legal? How can this feel so good?’” Morris recalls.

Law Enforcement To Hold Medication Disposal Program

Apr 29, 2016
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Law enforcement officers at locations across the state will be collecting unused leftover medications on Saturday.

KMUW’s Abigail Wilson reports the collection events are part of a nationwide effort to safely dispose of leftover medications in order to prevent accidental or intentional misuse.

Since the Kansas Medication Disposal Program began in 2010, more than 38 tons of unwanted medications have been collected and destroyed.

According to the Kansas Attorney Generals office, medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to misuse and abuse.

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Four health centers in Kansas are receiving a share of grant money from the U.S. Department of Health and Human services. The dollars will be dedicated to addressing the problem of opioid abuse.

With overdose deaths from painkillers, or opioids, on the rise, the federal government is giving $3.8 million to health centers in Missouri and Kansas to combat the epidemic.

The grants are among $94 million the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding to 271 health centers nationwide to address the abuse of opioids.