Johnson County tries to stay ahead of opioid crisis as Trump declares it a national emergency

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. - President Donald Trump declared the country's opioid crisis a national emergency Thursday. 

"We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money on the opioid crisis," Trump said Thursday.

Declaring a public health emergency would make the opioid crisis a top priority for the federal government. This means more funding and resources to help fight this crisis. For example, allocating more money to help pay for treatment and providing greater access to overdose-reversing drugs, like Naloxone. 

The announcement comes as states and local governments have struggled with this crisis.

In Johnson County, the health department is trying to stay ahead. 

"We know that we don't have a sufficient number of treatment providers across the country. We know we don't have a sufficient number of treatment options," said Lougene Marsh, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

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While opioid-related court filings have been trending downward in Johnson County, medical calls for overdose-reversing drugs, like Naloxone, have been increasing.

Every year, for the last four years, 30 people in the county have died from an opioid overdose.

"It's very real. Addiction has no eyes to it, so it doesn't matter what social economic status you are from, what religion you are from. It will hit every family and every household if we are not paying attention," said Kevin Kufeldt, program director of the Johnson County Adolescence Center for Treatment. 

Missouri is experiencing similar trends. 

According to data from the Missouri Hospital Association, opioid-related inpatient hospital admissions and emergency room visits have more than doubled over the past decade.

"This is not just a public health problem, it's not just a mental health problem, it's not just a law enforcement problem or a health care system problem. This is a community issue, and it is going to take really the energy of the community to address it," said Marsh.

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