Rutledge Marks International Overdose Awareness Day 2018
August 31, 2018
Launches webpage and social media campaign #Rx4LifeStories
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will launch Prescription for Life Stories (#Rx4LifeStories) today to mark International Overdose Awareness Day. #Rx4LifeStories is an ongoing initiative that will allow Arkansans to talk about how the nation’s opioid epidemic has impacted their lives and the lives of their families.
Rutledge will post videos of Arkansans telling their stories on her Twitter and Facebook accounts. The links on the website will show Arkansans telling their stories of the opioid crisis. Their words will drive home the sad reality that addiction and overdose are stealing an alarming number of young Arkansans who are leaving behind supportive and loving families.
“Who better to tell the story of addiction than the families, friends and individuals who have traveled this rocky path,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These individuals and families understand how hard it is to endure the merciless struggles of addiction, and in some cases, they have suffered the shattering grief of losing a loved one to these debilitating drugs. Today’s expansion of the Prescription for Life initiative is an opportunity for Arkansans to learn from our neighbors about the devastation of prescription drug use and abuse – in our homes, our towns and across our State. You too can make a difference by sharing your story to save a life.”
International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on August 31st each year that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of addiction. The day also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of a drug overdose.
Drug overdose deaths are on the rise in Arkansas, increasing from 287 in 2015 to 401 in 2017, according to data from the Arkansas Department of Health. More than 40 percent of teenagers in Arkansas have tried prescription drugs and more than half of all teens report that it is easy to obtain prescription drugs from their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets.
North America continues to experience the highest drug-related mortality rate in the world, accounting for one in four drug-related deaths globally, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that between 59,000 and 65,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, up from 52,404 in 2015 and double the death rate a decade ago. That is more than the number of deaths from car accidents in 2016. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, the majority of drug overdose deaths – six out of 10 – involve an opioid.
Prescription for Life Stories is the latest in General Rutledge’s multi-faceted approach to combatting the opioid crisis.
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.
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.
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.