People addressing opioid crisis in Kansas amidst federal lawsuits

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A settlement was reached before the nation’s first federal opioid trial got started Monday morning in Ohio, but the fight continues across the country.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services distributes federal money throughout Kansas. The department helps fund treatment, prevention, and overdose responses.

“For people that are impacted by it, it’s a very serious crisis, said Andy Brown, the behavioral health services commissioner for KDADS.

“Opioids are both very, very deadly and also have a really long term negative impact on people’s lives,” Brown said.

Several cities and counties in Kansas signed on to the federal lawsuit. The settlement will provide 260 million dollars to two Ohio counties.

Thousands of other lawsuits, some involving Kansas and local communities against the opioid industry could still be addressed in the future.

“If there is an opportunity for the state to receive a settlement of some kind, we would hope that those funds would be used to address the issue, both on the prevention and the treatment side,” Brown said.

The need to address the crisis is even more clear to those on the front lines.

Marsha Young is the program director at the Topeka Treatment Center. She said she has seen people at their worst.

“They’ll pawn things to get their pills, some of them will have a $100, $500 a week habit, they’re like, ‘I’m stuck,'” said Brown. “Some people that have been on it for 25 plus years, and just don’t know what to do. “

The facility gives them methadone so that they can’t get high off of opioids or other drugs. But Brown said it’s the counseling that can benefit them the most.

“We teach them how to live life without anything, without the pills, without the heroin, and go on to have a new normal in their life,” Brown said.

Talks of a nationwide settlement with the biggest drugmakers and manufacturers are still ongoing.

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