Sebastian County sheriff joins AAC Opioid Task Force

The task force aims to increase public awareness of epidemic, aid first responders in acquiring training and tools needed to prevent overdoses.

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017
For Immediate Release

LITTLE ROCK — Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck has joined the statewide Opioid Task Force formed by the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC). This move increases the task force’s total membership to six.

"I am honored to be asked to serve on the Opioid Task Force,” Hollenbeck said. “Our agency has actively combatted opioid abuse from several levels. From enforcement, education as well as recovery. This is a horrible social issue that has to be dealt with on different levels. Working together, I feel the state of Arkansas and its many counties can make a difference."

Hollenbeck began his career with the Dallas Police Department in 1982. He joined the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Department in 1990. He was elected sheriff in 2009, taking office in January 2010. He is a member of the AAC board of directors.

The task force held its first meeting on Oct. 9. The group was formed to address the rising incidence of heroin and opioid addiction and fatal overdoses in Arkansas. Other county members are Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs, Saline County Judge Jeff Arey, Union County Sheriff Ricky Roberts, Washington County Circuit Clerk Kyle Sylvester and Craighead County Treasurer Terry McNatt.

AAC Executive Director Chris said the formation of the task force was a natural response to the negative impact opioid use has had on Arkansas, which has the second highest opioid prescribing rate in the nation.

“The costs to our society are incredibly high and for counties, the societal impact directly impacts our bottom line in jail costs, clogged courtrooms and extra law enforcement on the streets,” said AAC Executive Director Chris Villines. “We know that if our counties stand together, we can respond to this crisis in an organized, cohesive fashion.”

Opioids are a class of drugs that includes the illegal drug heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, as well as pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and others available legally by prescription, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Opioids have proved to be highly addictive, with many users switching to heroin and fentanyl when their supply of prescription pain relievers run out. Opioid addiction affects all ages, races and ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups.

In their first meeting, members of the task force set two goals: to create an educational program that will increase the public’s awareness of the dangers of opioids and to help first responders gain access to the training and Naloxone they need to manage an opioid overdose.

Naloxone is an opiate antagonist that will reverse an opioid overdose and allow a person to breathe during an overdose situation. It gives a first responder time to seek lifesaving medical attention for the victim.

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