LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In the last 3 years the natural state has lost over 1,200 people from drug overdoses.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Arkansas state leaders are coming together to still spread their message about the opioid epidemic and how it’s affected hundreds of Arkansans during Red Ribbon week.“Methamphetamine has always been a number one drug threat in the state of Arkansas,” State of Arkansas Drug Director, Kirk Lane said. “We’re starting to see a lot of ploy drug deaths, where drugs are mixed together… and most alarming we’re seeing fentanyl, which is a deadly synthetic opioid, mixed into a lot of drugs.”
During Red Ribbon week, state leaders are concentrating on opioids and the toll it’s taken on Arkansas.
Red Ribbon week is State Drug director, Kirk Lane said fortunately the states number are going down.
“In 2019, 352 overdose deaths, 18.1 percent from 2018, we had 436 overdose deaths, so were trending the right way,” Lane said.
Lane along with other executives are still hosting programs to keep Arkansas on the right track.
“Law enforcement is not going to arrest their way out of this problem.
This is a problem that goes beyond law enforcement and really needing to have those conversations,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said.
Every year these conversations are had at events but things are different this year because of the pandemic.
“On top of this epidemic we have a epidemic so we are a little concerned about what the numbers are going to look like next year,” FBI Little Rock Special Agent, Diane Upchurch said.
They are instead hosting virtual events and show a special documentary called Chasing The Dragon on YouTube to keep everyone educated and involved.
State leaders said this year its just as important because there probably more stress for people now.
“COVID doesn’t seem to getting any better,” Lane said. “So we’re still going to have those streamers out there.”
Lane said majority of the people overdosing are between 25-50 years of age.
Leaders have a firm message for everyone.
“Drugs are bad, we know drugs are bad and it has no place in our society,” DEA Little Rock Assistant Special Agent, Justin King said.