Illegal painkillers and other dangerous prescriptions have permeated Arkansas’ landscape. OxyContin and Vicodin busts are at an all-time high in the state, including a landmark 54-person raid, the suspects in which spanned various nationalities. Painkiller addiction in Arkansas has especially impacted the state’s younger residents, and account for the majority admitted to AK pain medication addiction treatment on a yearly basis. Prescription pain pills are currently battling methamphetamine for supremacy in Arkansas, with recent evidence indicating that painkillers are in the lead. The relative ease with which a person can procure painkillers to get high renders them an immediate and dangerous threat to citizens of Arkansas, as well as the United States. Arkansas is currently battling a sizable prevention resource cut and has seen a drastic decrease in prescription drug treatment facilities over the past four years. Between 2005 and 2009, there was a 250% increase in hospital admissions due to complications from prescription opiates. OxyContin, the primary prescription threat facing Arkansas and the rest of the country, is practically identical to heroin.
Simply put, prescription painkillers are easier to get and less dangerous to carry. Teens get their hands on pain pills by raiding their parents’ cabinet or purchasing them over the Internet, while older patients doctor-shop to get multiple prescriptions for one injury. Residents of Arkansas and all over the United States make the dangerous and often fatal assumption that prescriptions are a safe way to get high, due to their regulated accessibility in the legal marketplace. This kind of thinking is what leads to over 15,000 prescription-related deaths every year, and has made painkillers the number-one drug threat.
Although the drug first achieved popularity as “hillbilly heroin” in more rural areas, OxyContin and other painkillers, now dominate all of Arkansas. Children often purchase and exchange pain pills right at school or in social situations. Areas like Little Rock and Flippin have seen significant legal pressure due to an increased presence of prescription painkiller abuse. Admissions to prescription drug treatment facilities around the state have skyrocketed. Most recently, due to the reformulation of OxyContin, Opana-a fast-acting opioid-has become increasingly popular in the state and other outlying areas.
Arkansas recently instituted a prescription drug monitoring program in an effort to better track addicts, and alert physicians to their conditions. Law enforcement officials have also significantly ramped up efforts to enforce the state’s stringent anti-drug laws. Treatment options, however, have been on the decline since 2008, and are necessary for the comprehensive eradication of the state’s painkiller abuse problem. Despite their dwindling numbers, there are still many quality facilities at which Arkansas residents suffering from painkiller dependency can get the help they need.