Addiction in Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital of Arkansas and one of the most densely populated cities in the state. Known for its scenic views and rich history, Little Rock is a picturesque city with a surprisingly high rate of substance use disorders. Arkansas has the second-highest opioid prescribing rate in America, and as one of the largest Arkansan metropolitan areas, Little Rock is suffering from severe opioid abuse. Pulaski County (which includes Little Rock) had over 156 deadly overdoses in 2016 alone.
The Opioid Crisis
According to the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, the sale of opioids in Arkansas is 25% higher than the national average. Opioids are a classification of drugs that are derived from, or a synthetic version of, opium. Many prescribed pain management medications are opioids, making them easily accessible, despite the fact that they are extremely addictive. The state ranks second for national overall opioid prescriptions, with an average of 114.6 prescriptions per 100 residents, and first in number of teens abusing opioid prescription painkillers.
Little Rock has one of the highest rates of oxycodone doses dispensed per capita in the entire state of Arkansas. In 2015, enough oxycodone was dispensed for every person in Arkansas to receive 37 pills. As prescription drug use worsens, officials worry that heroin abuse will increase as well. For many, opioid medication abuse is a gateway to stronger street drugs; about 80% of current heroin users first misused opioid pain relievers.
So many of the people who are addicted to heroin and the opioids will tell you that they first got hooked on pain medication.
In an attempt to reduce opioid abuse in the city, local and state officials have banded together to create Arkansas’ Drug Take Back Program to lower prescription opioid access and offer drop-off sites for citizens to get rid of excess pills. Although it has collected over 25,000 pounds of prescription pills so far, opiates continue to be an issue for Little Rock. The city has seen an increase in the use of both methadone and Xanax, a combination of drugs that results in 400 deaths a year in Arkansas.
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Drug Trafficking In and Out of Little Rock
Opioid abuse is a national epidemic; it is not limited to one specific location, as drugs are trafficked throughout every state in America. Little Rock serves as the main illicit substance trafficking city in Arkansas as it houses the only primary airport in the state: Little Rock National Airport. The most commonly trafficked drugs across state lines include hydrocodone and oxycodone.
Little Rock is such a prominent hub for illicit substance trafficking, a collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers has been working together for the past few years to address the issue. Since 2015, multiple arrests have been made in Little Rock for drug-trafficking organizations that were responsible for distributing hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, prescription drugs, and other controlled substances in central Arkansas. As trafficking has increased in the area, so has gang activity and drug-related violence. In 2017, the FBI’s violent crime data ranked Little Rock, Arkansas number two on the list of most dangerous cities with a population of under 200,000.
Operation Pilluted is another federal operation that hopes to reduce opioid destruction in Arkansas by targeting the largest sources of illegally diverted pharmaceuticals amongst the neighboring states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Despite all of these great efforts, opioids continue to be a problem for Arkansas as 235.9 million pills were sold across the state in 2016.
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Alcohol Abuse in Little Rock
Little Rock is not struggling with just drug abuse, however; alcohol use and dependency is an additional problem for the Arkansan city’s population. Pulaski County has a higher percentage of adult excessive drinking compared to the rest of the state, which is already significantly high. The rate of Arkansas adults both heavily and binge drinking has steadily increased since 2014, with 132,000 Arkansans reporting heavy alcohol use in 2018. Binge drinking significantly raises the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder and chances of alcohol-related disease/injury. Correlatively, the death rate of alcoholic liver disease in Arkansas is the highest it’s been since 2008.
Addiction Treatment in Little Rock
Getting treatment is one of the most important life changes someone battling with addiction can make, and it’s crucial that someone know all their options before making a decision. Little Rock is home to over 15 rehab centers and substance abuse treatment facilities, and there are countless more throughout the state. If you are someone who is struggling with addiction, whether it be to prescription pain medications or alcohol, please contact a dedicated treatment provider today.