Topeka, Kan. – In response to the estimated $30 million dollars in grants being awarded to several state agencies in Kansas from the Federal government for use in battling opioid and substance use disorders, Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. announced his coordinated effort to ensure those funds are targeted toward addressing prevention and treatment of substance use disorders in Kansas.

“The timing couldn’t be better for this funding to reach our state,” said Governor Colyer. “The health of Kansans takes top priority, and with the misuse of opioids threatening the health of many in our state, I am determined that we target these grants specifically toward efforts that will hit the problem head on and stem the tide of addiction and death from abusing opioids and other harmful substances.”

Governor Colyer has asked state agencies receiving this money to identify specific ways that it can be used toward this effort. Already, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) have identified several specific ways to use these new funds. (See attachments).

“Effective treatment is so important to overcoming opioid addiction,” said KDADS Secretary Tim Keck. “We are committed to working with our State and community partners to target our resources to effective programs and services for this and other substance issues.”

To keep the effort organized and centralized, Gov. Colyer has designated Dr. Greg Lakin as the State’s Central Authority on Substance Use. This action was one of the recommendations made by the Governor’s Substance Use Disorder Task Force organized by Gov. Colyer earlier this year. In this role, Lakin will be responsible for coordinating relevant State agencies and their response to substance use issues, such as the opioid epidemic. Dr. Lakin currently serves as the State’s Chief Health Officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and chaired the Governor’s Substance Use Disorder Task Force this year. He also serves on the Kansas Prescription Drug and Opioid Advisory Committee.

“We have an opportunity to help people struggling with addiction,” Dr. Lakin said. “By working together on this issue on a statewide and individual level, we will see successful outcomes. It will take the combined efforts of State agencies, stakeholders and communities. I appreciate the Governor allowing me to lead this crucial effort.”

One of Dr. Lakin’s patients shared her experience about the importance of support and coordinated services. Mandi Sims, Salina, suffered numerous injuries during a motor vehicle accident as a teenager. Following a reconstructive surgery, she was prescribed medication for the pain. She says after only a few weeks, she had developed an addiction that ultimately led to a prison sentence and the removal of her children from her care. While pregnant with her fourth child, she consulted with Dr. Lakin, and believes her substance use is now behind her. Her children have since been reintegrated into her home, and she has stable employment.

“He literally saved my life,” Sims said. “I have been through so much because of addiction. I am very grateful to everyone who is dedicated to ending this epidemic. Addiction takes away so much, but with the help and support of well-intentioned and caring health professionals, you can get your life back.”

KDHE indicates that 326 Kansans died of a drug overdose in 2017, 36% involved a prescription opioid drug or substance (e.g., hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone, etc), 23% involved a psychostimulant (e.g., methamphetamine), and 7% involved heroin. Although Kansas is below the national average for fatal opioid overdoses, the opioid crisis is an emerging threat that remains a challenge for the state to address, including the rise in drug overdoses due to psychostimulant drugs. Increases in opioid related drug misuse and deaths parallel the increase in prescription and illicit opioid availability.

Learn more about substance use disorders in our state, at www.preventoverdoseks.org.