AG, Locals Seek Rx for Prescription, Meth Abuse

ag-logo-for-facebook_originalBy JESSIE SMITH
city editor

Arkansans grapple with both opioid and methamphetamine abuse, but through the work of state government and local efforts, treatment options are available for those in southwest Arkansas.

On November 14, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will host the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit as she continues to address the opioid epidemic in the state.

“Opioids kill hundreds of Arkansans every year tearing families apart and devastating communities,” Rutledge said in a November 4 press release. Earlier in the year, Rutledge filed lawsuits against three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Johnson and Johnson, Purdue Pharma and Endo — for violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Arkansas Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act.

On a state level, Arkansas is also taking action to remove an excess of opioids and other medications from the population. On October 26, Arkansas participated in the 18th Prescription Drug Take Back Day in which Arkansans can turn in various opiate prescriptions and other medications to sites around the state.

However, while the opioid epidemic is a prominent problem in Arkansas, substance abuse can take other forms. Terry Williams works for Southwest Arkansas Counseling and Mental Health Center, which treats some of the individuals in Little River County who need help with substance abuse.

“What’s prevalent in southwest Arkansas and has been since I’ve been doing substance abuse with Southwest Arkansas Counseling and Mental Health Center is methamphetamines,” Williams said.

“There is an upswing, if you will, with opiates, and that’s a study all to itself.” The problem with methamphetamines does not seem to have increased or decreased, according to Williams.

The Southwest Arkansas Counseling and Mental Health Center assists those who may not have health insurance or the resources to pursue treatment in other ways. “Arkansas is one of the few states in our union who provides substance abuse treatment for its citizens,” Williams said.

“With that being said, an individual who meets the economical bar or scale … are afforded state-funded treatment.” Ninety-eight percent of the patients Williams sees are funded through the Department of Behavioral Health Services.

The client must provide proof of citizenship and a $200 assessment fee. The counseling center provides outpatient treatment, residential treatment and juvenile treatment for both outpatient and residential. In the case of a juvenile, the center can also contract other facilities such as detox centers.

Individuals with insurance can pursue private healthcare centers and facilities, including some in Texarkana. “On average there are 62 pills for every man, woman and child in the state,” Rutledge said in the November 4 press release. “Together let’s educate everyone, enforce the laws and end this epidemic. After all, Arkansas is just one big small town.”

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