Kansas advocacy group stepping up to combat record drug overdoses


HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) — Overdose deaths have reached a record high during the pandemic, according to CDC data.

The data shows more than 100,000 Americans overdosed between May 2020 and April 2021. That’s more than the number of people killed in car crashes and gun violence combined.

Hutchinson nonprofit Kansas Recovery Network is calling the new record a call to action.

“People can’t find recovery and get their lives back if they’re dead,” said Jacci Espinoza.

Espinoza is a recovering addict and a leader for the Kansas Recovery Network. The nonprofit is working to offer support to prevent future overdoses.

“The people that are dying, they’re good people. They’re not bad, dangerous, like the whole stereotype of drug addicts, That’s not who they are. They’re good people, they love their kids and their parents love them,” Espinoza said. “Just keeping them alive until they can come to a point where they can make better choices, to me is always a win.”

According to the CDC, fentanyl is a big factor in the increase.

“Some people are overdosing accidentally because they think they’re getting something different than what they think they’re getting,” said Harold Casey, Executive Director for Kansas Substance Abuse Center. “Others are using fentanyl. It’s part of how they use but they use too much.”

Kansas Recovery Network has been working to combat this by giving away more than 25-hundred doses of Narcan.

“You can’t just some expect somebody to just be well. I wish it would work that way but it’s not realistic. So, that’s where we want people to take the actions that they can to protect themselves if they are engaging in those risky behaviors.” said Seth Dewey, Co-founder of Kansas Recovery Network.

“We’ve had several people after they’ve been revived with naloxone provided by us or DCCCA that they’ve sought help,” Espinoza said.

Whether it’s for a family member or yourself, there is help for opioid addiction. Click here to see a full list of resources.

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