Johnson County Board of County Commissioners approves one-time allocation of $650,000+ in opioid settlement funds

Commissioners sit at the dais during a Board of County Commissioners meeting

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners approved a one-time spending allocation of nearly $658,000 from an opioid settlement fund set up to support opioid addiction treatment, community opioid education and the fight against opioid trafficking and misuse.

Examples of uses for these dollars include funding for our Adult Drug Court program, drug-testing kits, a blood chemistry analyzer for MED-ACT, and Narcan doses/supplies (used for rapidly reversing the effects of an opioid overdose). More information on uses for this allocation is available here.

Opioid-settlement money comes from manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies who were legally obligated to pay billions of dollars to state and local governments to help offset the negative impact of opioids in our communities. Money flows through the State of Kansas via legislation called the Kansas Fights Addiction Act, passed by the Kansas Legislature in 2021.

“With overdose rates rising in our community, it is imperative that Johnson County utilize these funds to battle the root causes and address the needs raised by the opioid epidemic," said Johnson County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mike Kelly.  "Focusing on education, prevention, and treatment with community partners will be key to battling this crisis."

Thus far, Johnson County has received around $1.64 million in opioid settlement funds. In June 2023, the BOCC approved an allocation of $200,000 to be distributed evenly between United Community Services of Johnson County and the Johnson County Prevention and Recovery Coalition in 2024.

Kevin Kufeldt, director of addiction and residential services for the Johnson County Mental Health Center, brought a local perspective to the opioid epidemic when he addressed the board in this month’s Committee of the Whole. He said that in 2020, just 23% of youth admitted into the JCMHC’s treatment center self-reported an opioid use disorder. By the end of January 2024, that same percentage was 67%.

He also said that while Johnson County has fewer deaths from opioid overdoses than the national average, overdose deaths in the county nearly doubled in just two years. In 2019, 5.6 individuals in Johnson County died of an overdose for every 100,000 people. In 2021, that ratio was 11.4 people for every 100,000 community members. The number of emergency room visits for opioid poisoning in Johnson County also doubled from 2018 to 2022.

“Johnson County is not immune to this, and it hasn’t been spared from this crisis,” Kufeldt said.

The commissioners voted to fund personnel, projects and equipment based on recommendations from the Johnson County Opioid Committee. The committee consists of staff from several Johnson County departments with connections to the opioid epidemic. County departments, agencies and organizations presented their requests for allocations to the committee using the criteria for spending settlement funds.

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