Like every other state, Arkansas is struggling with the ongoing opioid crisis.
One county is using a friendly competition to combat this growing problem.
A recent decline during drug take back events and a rise in opioid related calls was all the encouragement law enforcement needed to make changes.
Now the Garland County Sheriff’s Office and the Hot Springs Police Department are in a battle of the badges to get more of these drugs off the streets.
For every 100 people in Garland County, 176 medications are prescribed, according to the CDC.
That’s nearly three times the national average of 66.
“Everybody wants to address this problem,” Garland County Undersheriff Jason Lawrence said.
Garland County is working to drop its negative ranking, by getting the community to drop off prescription drugs.
“The vast majority of abuse is prescription medication because there’s so much out there,” Lawrence said.
So how do you ignite interest, awareness and community involvement?
Competition– between the Garland County Sheriff’s Office and the Hot Springs Police Department.
“I haven’t seen anything quite like this before,” Susie Reece said.
Reece is the Violence Prevention Specialist at CHI St. Vincent Hospital and co-leader for the county.
She knows the importance of fighting the opioid crisis.
“I lost my father to suicide when I was 10. Around 70 percent of those who are dying from suicide in our county have some sort of prescription drugs on board at the time of death,” she said.
Emergency calls Undersheriff Lawrence says he and his department have seen far too many.
“You’re called out to attempted suicides or overdoses on a daily basis. The vast majority of our day is involved in dealing with situations like that,” he said.
Now through the last week in April, both departments are campaigning for your containers, because every vial, is a vote.
“If it stops one death, one incidence of addiction then we win.”
Both departments have drug drop off locations inside their stations.
You can bring any and all medications, not just prescriptions.
The departments plan to host awareness and prevention presentations as well as other competitions, like a possible wrestling match!
Bragging rights and a wrestling style championship belt will go to the winner with the most pounds of prescription drugs collected.