El Dorado woman’s death shines light on opioid crisis

A litigation team representing the Association of Arkansas Counties and the Arkansas Municipal League is working on filing group litigation to include as many Arkansas cities and counties as will agree to sign on to the suit.

By Madeleine Leroux
Eldorado News-Times

A lifelong resident of El Dorado, Kristi Graham died earlier this month.

She wasn’t exactly well-known in the community. When she died, not much appeared about it, with the exception of a short death notice that ran in the El Dorado News-Times. The notice simply stated that the 46-year-old died Jan. 4 and arrangements are pending.

But it’s what wasn’t written that stood out to Barbara Dalby.

Dalby, a former classmate of Graham’s who now lives out of state, said Graham suffered from an opioid addiction, one that led her to seclude herself from others and ultimately ended her life.

“She had her demons,” Dalby said.

Dalby described Graham as “a vivacious, bubbly, quick-witted teenager” in high school. She said the pair lost touch when Dalby moved out of state, though they ran into each other at a business in El Dorado when Dalby was in town for a visit.

In that encounter, Dalby said, Graham was impaired and wearing only one shoe. Dalby said she gave Graham a ride home and suspected that she might one day be lost to addiction.

“She had been living this life for a long time. Secluded from society and isolated in her home with the pills that could never kill her pain,” Dalby said. “She was just, in that addiction, isolated.”

But Graham was far from alone in her addiction.

Arkansas had the second-highest opioid prescription rate in the country in 2016 with more than 114 prescriptions per 100 people. Alabama had the highest rate in the nation with a rate of 121 prescriptions per 100 people. Read more.

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