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Government

Governor Colyer Establishes Task Force To Combat Drug Abuse

colyer_drugs.jpg
Stephen Koranda
/
Kansas News Service
Colyer announces the task force during an event Thursday.

Gov. Jeff Colyer is creating a task force to study ways to fight drug abuse in Kansas through prevention and treatment. He signed an executive order Thursday bringing together the heads of 16 state agencies, as well as medical professionals and law enforcement.

Colyer, a surgeon, said the epidemic is a growing problem in Kansas, with opioid overdose deaths climbing from 35 in 2000 to more than 150 in 2016.

“In my own medical practice I’ve seen first-hand the impact of substance abuse disorders," Colyer said. "I’ve had patients die. I’ve had patients see their lives ruined, and I’ve also seen them recover, as well.”

Colyer said he wants recommendations within six months. The governor says some potential actions could include better tracking of prescription drugs and wider distribution of medication that can reverse an opioid overdose.

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Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service. Follow him on Twitter @KPRKoranda.