LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas continues to see the impact of funding received from the November 2022 $200 million opioid settlement.

The Hope Movement Coalition announced Friday that it had received $1 million from the Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership. AORP is an initiative of the Association of Arkansas Counties and the Arkansas Municipal League charged with the distribution of settlement funds.

Hope Movement is a state-wide organization that serves families affected by illicit drug and fentanyl poisoning. The funding will help develop services serving families that have lost someone due to substance abuse or fentanyl poisoning.

The organization’s emphasis is on mental health counseling. Grieving families are assigned licensed case managers, along with trained parent-sibling peers.

Hope Movement’s founder Staci James said that case managers and peers would assess family members’ critical needs, then connect them with resources to reduce their chances of experiencing a mental decline and-or substance misuse due to their grief.

“Having lost my 22-year-old son Hagen in 2019, I am painfully aware of the lack of resources and support for families suffering these types of losses,” James said.  “It is a complicated grief, complicated even further by stigma and apathy towards our loved ones’ causes of death.”

James said that serving the family through open conversations is critical and part of the organization’s mission.

“Until conversations are had openly about the prevalence of substance use disorder and the dangers of fentanyl for those experimenting, we will continue to lose residents in communities across the state,” James said. “We are here to ensure those conversations start to take place and that the families left behind have a community to support them.”

According to the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention data, Arkansas saw a 41% increase in illicit drug deaths from 2019 to 2020. Fentanyl poisoning deaths in the state increased by over 73% for the same period.