Five Arkansas counties get $1 million to fight opioid abuse

By George Jared
Talk Business & Politics

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $998,834 to launch a proactive program to prevent opioid and substance abuse in north central and northeast Arkansas, a region that has high rates of opioid abuse and overdose deaths.

The two-year program, led by Winrock International in partnership with Ozarka College and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Institute for Digital Health & Innovation, will deliver preventive training, education and resources to youth and adults in Baxter, Fulton, Izard, Sharp and Stone counties.

“USDA has prioritized programs that equip rural communities to prevent opioid abuse and access treatment and recovery resources,” said David Branscum, USDA state director. “As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has said, the opioid epidemic knows no boundaries. It has cut through communities of all sizes and families of all socio-economic backgrounds.”

Arkansas is the second highest-ranking state in the nation for opioid prescription rates and the Delta region is deeply impacted by opioid abuse and other forms of substance abuse. The five target counties are some of the most at-risk communities in Arkansas, as indicated by incidence of non-specific drug overdose deaths, youth substance abuse and other risk factors.

The program is specifically designed to serve youth and adults who have not received intensive opioid and substance abuse awareness training and education through other programs. While first responders, law enforcement and some school-age children in the region have received opioid abuse training, most of the population has not. READ MORE.

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