Drug Abuse Trends in Wichita
Located in Sedgwick County in south-central Kansas along the Arkansas River, Wichita is home to 391,586 people. The city’s location at the intersection of major highways I-135 and I-35 makes drug trafficking easy and frequent.
For years, meth and alcohol were the most commonly abused substances in the area. At the start of the 21stcentury, methamphetamines contributed to 35% of all drug-related federal sentences in Kansas (compared to 14% nationwide). In 2004, there were 630 meth lab incidents in the state. Meth labs became so prevalent in the rural region that Sedgwick County was soon classified as a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Government regulation of the sale of cold medicine reduced rates of meth production and abuse, as well as the number of meth labs, for a time. Mexican cartels have since taken over the production and importation of meth.
By 2013, the importation of meth from Mexico had dropped US street prices by 70%, while increasing purity levels. Meth remains the second-most common reason for drug-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits. Today however, opioids have overtaken meth in addiction and abuse rates.
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Opioid Epidemic in Wichita
At one point in the US, doctors had prescribed enough painkillers for every American to get a bottle, though Americans hadn’t reported any higher levels of pain. Because prescription opioid painkillers can become addictive after only 5 days of regular use, rates of opioid dependence and overdose exploded across the country. In Kansas in particular, youth drug overdose rates more than quadrupled in a decade, as prescriptions were easily accessed in their homes. In 2017, 14.45% of 12th graders took prescription drugs not given to them by a doctor.
Among adults, individuals between the ages of 35 and 54 were the most likely to be hospitalized for non-heroin opioid overdoses. Opioids were the most common cause of all drug-related hospitalizations. According to state data, the most commonly abused prescription opioids are hydrocodone, oxycodone, tramadol, and morphine. 200,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed monthly in Kansas.
Heroin, a cheaper alternative derived from the same opium plant as prescription opioids, has also increased in rates of abuse. Heroin use among 12- to 25-year-olds has doubled in less than decade. Heroin is the third-leading cause of hospitalization/emergency room visits in Sedgwick County. In one year, 19 Kansas residents died specifically from heroin overdoses, though the National Center for Health Statistics believes the true number to be even higher.
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Addiction Treatment in Wichita
As Kansas’ biggest city and a center for culture, media, and trade in the region, Wichita offers a variety of treatment options for those seeking to detox from addiction. A number of healthcare providers offer substance abuse services for uninsured, low-income, Medicaid, and Medicare patients.
For some, the most difficult aspect of recovery can be selecting a treatment method or rehab center. In a one-day census in 2013, nearly 11,000 people were enrolled in substance use treatment in Kansas. Numbers have since increased, with some publicly-funded centers forced to waitlist individuals seeking addiction treatment. Only 10.9% of those with illicit drug dependence or abuse received treatment in Kansas between 2009 and 2013.
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services works with Comcare to provide some addiction treatment services to the public, including:
- Assessment and evaluation
- Co-occurring mental health and substance use treatment
- Primary addiction treatment
- Alcohol and drug education programs
Wichita’s Drug Court offers residents an opportunity to avoid the traditional punitive measures of the justice system and receive therapeutic treatment for substance use disorders. Drug Court is different in that the judge, prosecutor, defendant’s attorney, probation officer, and treatment provider work in tandem to rehabilitate individuals. To qualify, residents should live within 60 miles of Wichita and have not participated in a Drug Court program already.
Drug Court’s intensive drug and alcohol treatment programs include a one-year minimum of:
- Regular court appearances
- Random drug testing
- Payment of all treatment and court fees
Drug Diversion Program
Wichita also maintains a Drug Diversion Program for defendants charged with simple possession of controlled substances. Defendants have the opportunity to avoid a conviction marring their record but will still be held accountable. Through supervision, payment of fees, educational programs, and community service in addition to various other requirements, defendants repay their debt to society.
Traveling for Recovery
For some, recovery is more comfortable and successful when they travel to another state’s rehab center. Traveling opens up a variety of options for treatment methods, inpatient and outpatient facilities, and various therapeutic amenities (ranging from painting to horseback riding). Depending on the severity of an individual’s addiction, detox may take place in the home or at a managed-care center, followed by rehabilitation in a supervised program. If you need help finding the right treatment option for you, contact a provider today.