Arkansas is set to receive $250 million in settlement money from pharmaceutical companies, drug store chains, and other businesses that profited from the US opioid epidemic. The state has been heavily impacted by the opioid crisis, with 618 opioid-related deaths in 2021 alone, fueled by the overprescription of opioids by pharmaceutical companies. Illicit fentanyl caused 60% of the fatalities, flooding the state through drug trafficking networks.
The Hope Movement Coalition, a non-profit that supports families impacted by the opioid crisis, will receive funds to hire two case managers to assess and address family needs. The case managers will evaluate food, housing, financial security, and caretaking responsibilities and provide support for expenses like funeral costs and daycare services.
Arkansas has been vulnerable to the opioid crisis due to its culture and history with meth, and overprescribing has been a significant issue. Kirk Lane, the director of the Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership, recognizes the need to connect legal opioid prescriptions to addiction. He stresses that addiction should be treated as a disease, not a crime.
Settlement funds received by the state will be used to aid families affected by overdose deaths. Arkansas is struggling with the opioid crisis due to overprescribing and dependency, leading to drug trafficking and an influx of heroin and synthetic opioids. The hiring of case managers by the Hope Movement Coalition is a step towards addressing the needs of families impacted by the opioid crisis in Arkansas.
A published article by Stephanie Smittle of the Arkansas Times on March 3, 2023, contributed to this report.