News Releases

Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit Held in Hot Springs


November 9, 2017

More than 1,000 attend – a record

HOT SPRINGS – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today, along with the Arkansas Office of the Drug Director, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy and the Criminal Justice Institute, a division of the University of Arkansas System, hosted the sixth annual Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The Summit serves as a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators, and gives an opportunity to hear from experts regarding prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment, and was attended by over 1,000 – a record.

“Prescription drug misuse and abuse continues to be one of the main issues concerning all Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This Summit is one more important avenue for those working to solve this crisis – medical and law enforcement professionals – to educate themselves about and identify new treatment and educational opportunities. There is no one solution, but there is one mission – saving lives. I am proud of the partnerships that have once again come together for this record-setting event.

“Solving substance use disorder issues is a complex and difficult issue to resolve,” said Director Lane. “It will require an ‘all hands on deck’ buy-in from every community. We must change society perception as well as the social norms to drug abuse issues. Being willing to change is key. The Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit is a great tool to bring a diverse cross section of stakeholders to the table to get on the same page. It is designed to empower them through knowledge and education to make the difference and become their community leaders.”

The all-day Summit began with breakout sessions to promote safe opioid use in presentations by Dr. Tonya Robertson with Baptist Health Physician Partners, State Drug Director Kirk Lane and Dr. John C, Kirtley, executive director of the State Board of Pharmacy. Stan Jones with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency also discussed the use and abuse of heroin and fentanyl and Dr. Karen Farst with Arkansas Children’s Hospital presented the Arkansas Prevention Network awards.

Rutledge hosted today’s luncheon, which included the keynote address from Lane, who was appointed to the post earlier this year. Lane has been committed to combating prescription drug abuse on the state and federal level for many years. He plans to announce the results of the October 28 Prescription Drug Take Back Day during the luncheon.

The afternoon session included a presentation on medication assisted treatment from Dr. Michael Mancino with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Naloxone from Lane and Kirtley, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program from Program Director Denise Robertson and Program Epidemiologist Jonathan Aram as well as a presentation on the Prescription Drug Overdoes Grant from Dr. Cheryl May with the Criminal Justice Institute. Plenary sessions included the Arkansas Action Panel featuring May and Tenesha Barnes, early intervention and prevention manager with the Department of Human Services and Deborah Motley Bledsoe, substance abuse treatment director with the State Drug Director’s Office. A parent panel closed out the day.

Rutledge has brought a first-in-the-nation curriculum to Arkansas called Prescription for Life. Prescription for Life features a digital platform to help high school students in the State understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. The program is free to high schools and more information can be found at ArkansasAG.gov. The curriculum is part of the Attorney General’s already robust prescription drug abuse prevention initiative. During 2016, more than 330 pounds of prescription drugs were collected at Attorney General Mobile Offices across Arkansas and over 160 pounds have been collected since the beginning of 2017.

In addition to the Attorney General’s office, the Summit is sponsored by the Arkansas Alcohol Drug Coordinating Council, Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas Medical Board, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas National Guard Counterdrug Program, Arkansas State Board of Nursing, Arkansas Prevention Network, Arkansas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gulf Coast HIDTA, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation, University of Arkansas at Little Rock MidSOUTH Center for Prevention and Training, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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