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Mar 03

Heroin and Opioid Crisis

Posted on March 3, 2017 at 8:17 AM by Kristy Bansemer

Robert Lee, Police Chief

Police Chief Robert LeeNearly three years ago, I attended a conference in Boston for police administrators. I was surprised to hear much of the discussion focused on the alarming heroin epidemic plaguing the east coast. Like many Midwestern police administrators in attendance, I simply had not seen the increase in heroin-related overdose deaths.

Today, things are much different. In 2016, we had two heroin overdose deaths in Derby. In 2016, Sedgwick County recorded 21 heroin or opioid overdose deaths. What a significant increase from the three deaths recorded in 2011! Nationally, in 2015 more than 33,000 overdose deaths involved an opioid.

What makes heroin and opioid abuse so dangerous? First, there is no safe dosage of an illegal street drug such as heroin. The strength and potential danger can vary from dose to dose. Heroin is now commonly mixed with other extremely strong drugs which increases the intensity of the “high.” However, mixing also dramatically increases the likelihood of an overdose. Every dose has the potential to be fatal.

Abuse of prescription opioids can have the same lethal effect. Aside from serious health complications from prolonged abuse, prescription opioids if abused can be just as lethal as heroin. It is indeed a false sense of security to assume you can abuse them just because they are prescribed.

What steps can you take to prevent addiction? First, when you are prescribed a pain medication (examples: OxyContin or Lortab), follow the directions of your doctor.

Second, do not keep unneeded medication. Properly discard it so it cannot be abused by others.

Finally, if you suspect a problem with addiction, ask for help. Family, friends and professionals are here to help you. We are fortunate to live in an area where professional help is just a phone call away. Call your doctor, a counselor, or contact the Substance Abuse Center of Kansas (731 N. Water) at 267-3825 or