Reno County Group Calls on Others to “Join the Conversation” on Overdose

The number of drug and alcohol overdoses continues to rise in Reno County, with the county this week eclipsing an average overdose per day for the first time since authorities began tracking cases in real time.

A group of community stakeholders and partners who have been meeting since 2015 to find ways to tackle substance abuse in the community have scheduled several events over the next three months in an attempt to engage the general public on the issue. .

Their goal is to eliminate the stigma associated with substance abuse, said Seth Dewey, health educator with the Reno County Department of Health.

The county recorded 19 overdoses in the first 16 days of May.

That compared to 29 each in March and April and 34 in January and February combined.

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Reno County Health Department Substance Abuse Health Educator Seth Dewey demonstrates how Narcan nasal spray is given to a person who has overdosed.  He pointed out that even if Narcan is in use, 911 should still be called and a doctor's consultation, as the spray wears off after about 30 minutes and the person could start overdosing again.

“We are going through a public health crisis at the national, state and local level,” said Dewey. “The consequences of overdoses and drug addiction are felt in our communities. From conversations with people in recovery and through advancements in addiction science, we have learned that there is no single answer to the problems we face. “

“Our community has made a lot of progress, but more improvements are needed,” he continued. “Therefore, as a Collaborative, we invite all members of our community to participate in events from the third Thursday of this month.”

The first event will start at 5 p.m. outside the Hutch Rec building at First and Walnut and is meant to be interactive, answering questions and educating people on how they can get involved, Dewey said.

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The following events will take place on Fridays, starting at 7 p.m. inside the Fox Theater, including June 25, July 16, and August 13.

They will feature discussions with panelists from our various partners and residents of Reno County.

The expectation is that the information offered and received will be different each time, Dewey said.

“We’re not just going to go up there and preach to the public,” Dewey said. “We are going to pave the way for the community to have their concerns heard. What excites me is that it will give us a guide to follow in our work. What do the people of Reno County want from us? In what ways do they want us to run our work? What can we improve? “

Attendees will hear stories from some of those affected, such as parents who have lost a child, Dewey said. It will also include science and the latest treatment information and help the community put faces to the names of those involved in the effort, he said.

“We are all guilty of looking at something through our own opinions and experiences,” he said. “We want to try to open that up and explore a bit what the fellow citizens might be going through.”

“We want people to take what they hear with them and talk with their friends and family, so the next event is even bigger and the last one is even bigger,” he said. “We need people to understand what’s going on. This is a community issue and we need all members of the community to join the conversation to make lasting change. “

“Changing the stigma and language around substance abuse requires efforts not just from ourselves but from the community as a whole,” Dewey said. “We need everyone in our community to join the conversation to make lasting change.”

Members of the Reno Recovery Collaborative, formerly known as the Reno County Drug Impact Task Force, include:

  • Mirror Inc.,
  • Kansas Center on Substance Abuse,
  • Horizons,
  • Hutchinson Regional Medical Center,
  • BreakThru at Summit Surgical,
  • Hutchinson Police Department,
  • Reno County Sheriff’s Office,
  • Oxford House – Chapter 13,
  • Addicts Against Overdose,
  • Reno County Health Department,
  • New beginnings,
  • Reno County EMS,
  • Rise Up Reno,
  • United Way of Reno County,
  • Salvation Army,
  • 308 USD,
  • Resilience Reno County,
  • Reno County Medical Examiner’s Office,
  • Hutchinson Community College,
  • And above all, the members of the community concerned.

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