n the nearly 20 years since I became director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the illegal use of prescription drugs has become an epidemic that our nation couldn’t have imagined. Drug addiction is an insidious enemy of our families and our nation. Addiction to opioids is the biggest challenge we face. An addiction often begins as a legitimate use of a prescription to block pain after an injury or surgery. Addiction slips up on people who would never have considered abusing medicine. On Tursday, Oct. 26, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national health emergency in the United States, where about 175 people a day overdose on an opioid. Nationally, the number of overdose deaths by prescription opioids has quadrupled since 1999. In Arkansas, we already are addressing the threat. Tis


year, our legislators passed a law that allows pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription. Naloxone is an antidote for an opioid overdose. Some of our first responders have saved lives because they were carrying the drug. We have established a statewide protocol for tracking the

prescribing and dispensing of opioids. Law enforcement agencies can watch for trends and anticipate problems. We’ve also established drug courts, which allow judges the flexibility to offer drug offenders court-supervised treatment and other assistance instead of sentencing them to prison. But let me bring this to a personal level. It’s the real-life stories that drive home the heartache. Linda Lary spent much of her childhood in North Little Rock, and her mother was a native of Waldo. Linda now lives in Greenwood, Mississippi. Her son Michael was an All-State football lineman in high school and an Eagle Scout by age 15. He was a member of the

FROM THE GOVERNOR Opioid epidemic: a national health emergency

Phi Delta Teta fraternity at Ole Miss. He was one hour short of graduation with a degree in exercise physiology. Michael’s slide into addiction began seven years ago with 60 Percocet pills a doctor pre- scribed after he developed meningi- tis. He was in and out of rehab. Shortly before he died, he admitted to his parents that he was addicted to heroin. He died sometime after 5 p.m. on Dec. 19, two days before his 28th birthday. His Bible and a dose of Narcan [the antidote naloxone] were on the floor beside him. Linda is moving from grief to action. As she has spoken out, parents have been calling her for comfort and with the names of drug dealers, which she passes to local law enforce- ment agents. She is a forceful advocate for the things she be- lieves addicts need: Year-long rehab centers and sober-living houses; strict monitoring of drug testing with an observer; and intensive outpatient therapy. To win this fight against drug abuse, we must pay atten- tion to how and where we prescribe opioids.

From The Governor

Hon. ASA

HuTCHINSON Governor of Arkansas

Asa Hutchinson

Te Honorable Asa Hutchinson Governor of Arkansas

Governor announces state’s Naloxone Standing Protocol

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, with DHS State Director of Drug Pre- vention Kirk Lane and other officials, announced on Sept. 6 the creation of the state’s Naloxone Standing Protocol. The protocol was developed pursuant to Act 284 of 2017 by state

Sens. Cecile Bledsoe and Lance Eads and Rep. Justin Boyd. It allows licensed pharmacists in Arkansas to order, dispense and/ or administer naloxone without a prescription as therapy, providing greater access to more Arkansans and first responders in the event of a drug overdose.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist delivered via injection or nasal spray that is used to block or reverse an opioid overdose. “The effects of opioid addiction — on individuals, families, and our state — are staggering,” said Hutchinson. “Reports of drug- related injuries and deaths across the nation are increasing, and sadly, we’ve seen the tragic effects of this epidemic on the com- munities in our state, as well.


— Photo by Holland Doran 11

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