The 2018 kickoff of the Opioid Prevention Education Summit was held on the campus of Arkansas State University at Mountain Home today (1/23/2018) in an effort to increase awareness of the opioid epidemic in Arkansas, as well as to enhance coalitions and develop an advisory council in local communities.
“We want to encourage community members to step forward to assist in addressing the risk factors associated with opioids by serving on local advisory councils,” said Michelle Young-Hobbs of Division of Aging Adult and Behavioral Health Services.
She said that Local Advisory Councils will:
●Have input on media distribution in their area;
●Assist in distribution of health literacy;
●Promote awareness of the dangers of opioids in the community;
●Select a representative to serve on the statewide advisory council, which will give input of policy and best practice recommendations;
●Meet on a monthly basis to provide feedback, plan activities, and share accomplishments.
“We want to hear from you on the best way to communicate with your residents,” said Dr. Cheryl May, Director of Criminal Justice Institute (CJI). “What media strategy works best in your community? We want people in communities throughout Arkansas to learn more about the opioid epidemic. Collectively we can make a big dent in this crisis, and we look forward to partnering with you.”
“As of today, 53 lives have been saved since 2016 by first responder agencies in Arkansas, who have found a way to begin their own Naloxone programs,” Lane said. “Our goal is to get Narcan kits into every first responders hands throughout the state.”
May said additionally there's a goal to provide family members of someone in a recovery program with Narcan kits and training.
“We believe the more people we can get Narcan to, the more lives we can save,” she said.
The Narcan program is substantially funded by two grants: (1) Prescription Drug Overdose (PDO) Death Prevention grant, awarded in September 2016 and the (2) State Targeted Response (STR) to Opioid grant, awarded May 2017. The two grants fund the Narcan and Local Advisory Councils in Crawford and Franklin counties (combined), Sharp County, Sebastian and Scott counties (combined), Marion and Baxter counties (combined), and Garland County.
Young-Hobbs said the future goal is to not only extend the grant funding, but to also fund the programs statewide. She said a short term goal is to set up a training program for physicians concerning the opioid epidemic on the ArTakeBack.org website, as well as new social media sites.
According to the Centers for Disease Control Arkansas is number 2 in the nation in the amount of prescription distribution, at 114.6 painkiller prescriptions per 100 people. The national average is 66.5 painkiller prescriptions per 100 people.
“Arkansas was number 8 in the U.S. in 2015 for the prescribing rate and we increased to number 2 in 2016,” Lane said. “That occurred because other states did more to take on the opioid problem. We [Arkansas] have not done enough.”
Lane and May said the impact Local Advisory Councils can make when partnering with their programs, can significantly reduce the negative impact of the opioid epidemic in the state, including a reduction of overdose deaths.
Collectively we can succeed in reducing opioid deaths.