Group says youth drug overdoses up in Kansas
Wichita A study by a nonprofit health advocacy group says youth drug overdose rates are up in Kansas, but that they remain lower than the national rate.
The study released Thursday by Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit health advocacy group, shows that Kansas' overall drug overdose death rate for 12- to 25-year-olds was 5.9 deaths for every 100,000 youths. That compares to 7.3 deaths nationally for every 100,000 youths, The Wichita Eagle reported.
The Kansas rate quadrupled over the last 12 years, and only Wyoming had a greater increase, according to the study, which included overdoses from both prescription and illicit drugs.
Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, said the rise in overdose and deaths among youth points to a need for effective policies.
"We need to move beyond 'just say no' and putting our heads in the sand thinking this is just a problem of willpower," he said.
Stacy Chamberlain, director of addiction services for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, said the state waiting list of people who need funding in order to receive treatment for addiction has increased over time but started spiking about three years ago.
Chamberlain said she could not provide specific numbers, but said she's noticed a shift toward young adults.
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services said a work group formed a year and a half ago to address drug abuse and the group hopes to finalize its plan toward the beginning of 2016.