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Arkansas Health Officials Focus on Reducing Prescription Drug Overdoses

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Arkansas is focusing on reducing prescription drug overdoses, which account for about one death daily in the state. State officials are working with health providers, law enforcement and educators to reduce abuse rates, according to the Associated Press.

Alcohol is still the most commonly abused substance in the state, the article notes. Health officials are also concerned about synthetic drugs and heroin use.

The state’s prescription drug take-back program has collected more than 32 tons of medicines from homes, according to the state’s Drug Director, Fran Flener. In 2010, almost 400 people in Arkansas died from prescription drug overdoses.

“People think that because these pills come from a pharmacist and are prescribed by your doctor they’re not harmful. When they are taken in the wrong manner and not according to directions, they are as much or even more harmful than other illicit drugs,” Flener said.

Last week, National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske told participants of a conference on prescription drug abuse in Little Rock, Arkansas that addiction is a brain disease, and should not be treated as a moral failure.

Drug overdoses kill more Americans than traffic crashes or gunshot wounds, he told the group. He praised prescription drug take-back events for removing drugs from the home that might otherwise fall into the hands of young people and others who may abuse them.

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