Rutledge Announces Opioid Abuse Awareness Exhibit Coming to University of Arkansas in October
September 13, 2018
Exhibit on display Oct. 3-9 at Arkansas Union in Fayetteville
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced she is partnering with the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) and the Arkansas Municipal League (AML) to bring the National Safety Council’s opioid memorial to be on display at the Arkansas Union on campus at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville from October 3-9. The Prescribed to Death: A Memorial to the Victims of the Opioid Crisis is free to all members of the public, not just students at the university. Parents, grandparents and teenagers are all encouraged to walk through this moving exhibit.
The centerpiece of the multifaceted exhibit is a wall of 22,000 engraved white pills – each representing the face of someone lost to a prescription opioid overdose in the United States in 2015. Arkansas alone lost 401 residents to opioid overdose in 2016, and it has the second highest rate of opioid prescribing in the country – trailing only Alabama.
“I am proud to bring the ‘Prescribed to Death’ exhibit to the University of Arkansas campus because we are losing too many of our bright, promising young people to opioid addiction,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This powerful display is a resounding reminder of the lives lost in just one year at the hands of this deadly epidemic. I will not stand idly by as Arkansans are devastated by the scourge of addiction. I am thankful for the willingness of our city and county leaders and local businesses to work collaboratively with me to educate Arkansans so that together we will save lives in our communities.”
“Education about the dangers of opioids has been at the heart of the AAC’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in Arkansas. The AAC is honored to collaborate with Attorney General Rutledge, the Arkansas Municipal League, and other sponsors to bring the ‘Prescribed to Death’ memorial to Arkansas. We can share statistics, but many people are visual learners. I believe people will be profoundly affected when they see this representation of the number of lives that are lost to opioid overdoses each year in our country,” said AAC Executive Director Chris Villines.
“The AML’s desire and assistance in bringing the ‘Prescribed Death’ memorial to our state, along with the Attorney General's Office and the AAC, is representative of our organization's solid commitment to correct and fully recover from Arkansas's opioid epidemic,” said AML Executive Director Mark Hayes. “We all have personal and very painful stories concerning opioids. The wall, and the lives lost to opioids that are represented, will serve as an incredible motivating factor in furthering our efforts to prevent, educate and effectively treat this epidemic that has plagued our state.”
“The most important thing about this crisis is not the statistics, but the faces,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “The data speak to our head but the individual stories speak to our hearts. The Prescribed to Death memorial not only brings visitors face to face with this everyday killer, but also encourages actions that will help us eliminate these preventable deaths.”
The National Safety Council launched Prescribed to Death as a part of the National Safety Council’s Stop Everyday Killers public education campaign.
In addition to Rutledge’s office, the Association of Arkansas Counties and the Arkansas Municipal League, the exhibit is underwritten by contributions from Stericycle, Nationwide Insurance, Walmart and EverFi. Visit StopEverydayKillers.org for more information. Other supporting partners include the Associated Student Government of the University of Arkansas, the Office of the Arkansas Drug Director and the Criminal Justice Institute, University of Arkansas System.
In August, Rutledge announced a new initiative, called #Rx4LifeStories, to allow Arkansans to talk about how the nation’s opioid epidemic has impacted their lives and the lives of their families. Last fall, Rutledge launched Prescription for Life, a first-in-the-nation educational tool offered at no cost to all high school students in the State to help them understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. To date, it has been launched in 73 schools, across 55 counties and reached over 7,700 students with an additional 17 schools committed to launch the program this fall.
Rutledge is also suing the opioid manufacturers who created the crisis in Arkansas for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act.
Each year, Rutledge partners with a number of agencies in hosting the Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit. The summit is a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators. The seventh annual Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit is scheduled for Nov. 1 in Hot Springs, with more than 800 taking advantage of early bird registration.
Rutledge also partners with federal and state agencies for the biannual National Take Back Day. Since 2016, more than 600 pounds of prescription drugs were collected at Attorney General Mobile Offices across Arkansas.