WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 107,000 Americans died last year from drug overdoses. That comes out to roughly one overdose death every five minutes.
Center for Change in Wichita says they have noticed the increase locally as they notice more people being impacted on a personal level.
"Every patient has a personal family member, or a good friend, or a high school buddy that's overdosed and died. That used to be pretty rare," said Dr. Greg Lakin, Center for Change medical director.
Center for Change serves hundreds each week. As soon as it opens at 4:30 a.m., people are lining up.
"We have people coming in for treatment all the time, and they just talked about how excessive all these fake pills are, these press pills," Lakin said.
As access becomes easier, Dr. Lakin says things can get out of hand sooner.
"It's only a matter of time before you start looking for things out on the street, and this stuff on the street is so deadly," Lakin said. "It can look very harmless, and it could look like just one pill, but in the wrong hands, it's absolutely deadly."
Safe Streets is hoping to combat deadly overdoses through harm reduction strategies.
"Fentanyl testing strips so that we can assure people have a safe supply, sterile syringe exchange, safe consumption sites, and medical assistant treatment for incarcerated individuals," said Aonya Kendrick-Barnett, Program director for drug-free communities with Safe Streets Wichita.
Kendrick-Barnett added the way the community can help is by removing biases.
"We know people are going to use drugs. We want to connect them to care and treatment. It's just a start. We want to make a true impact and recognize that drug use is a public health issue."
For a list of resources for anyone battling addiction, click here.