Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge Announces First-in-the-Nation Initiative Aimed at Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced a first-in-the-nation education initiative called“Prescription for Life” featuring a digital platform to be offered at no cost to all high school students in   Arkansas schools understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse.

“Talking about the harmful impact of prescription drug abuse with children and teenagers can no longer be a goal, It has to be a reality,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas ranks first in the nation for ages 12 to 17 in misuse of painkillers. Reversing this trend is a top priority of mine. Prescription for Life will be available to every high school student in Arkansas beginning this fall.” Prescription for Life will come at no cost to participating schools. Using an evidence-based public health approach, the digitalcourse will empower high school students with the skills and knowledge they need to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs. The course will be aligned with the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health Education Standards and State academic standards.

Scott Doerhoff, Executive Director of the William Christian Doerhoff Memorial Foundation and a father who lost his son, Will, to a prescription drug addiction and overdose last year said, “Initiating drug education in  Arkansas high schools will create the opportunity for a new culture of awareness and safety for our kids   and educate them on the life threatening risk of not only illegal substance abuse but also illicit prescription drug use which is often and extraneously, thought of as being a ‘safe’ way to use substances. The William Christian Doerhoff Memorial Foundation and Parent Advocacy Group of Arkansas applaud Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and her staff for their commitment and leadership in protecting Arkansas children.

“The Arkansas Attorney General's office and the Drug Enforcement Administration have joined forces to combat a growing epidemic of prescription opioid misuse and heroin use nationwide,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Matthew Barden. This important initiative is to educate students about the true   impacts of opioids and kick-start lifesaving conversations in the home and classroom. DEA is committedto supporting all educational efforts that provide classroom resources and prevention tools to educators and parents that aim to introduce students to the science behind opioids and their impact on the brain andbody.”

Prescription for Life is an innovative training concept designed to prepare our younger generations to     keep their selves, friends, and communities safe from substance abuse,” said Arkansas State Drug Director Kirk Lane. “Education and community involvement is the key to resolving the issues of substance use disorder.”

Drug overdose deaths are on the rise in Arkansas, increasing from 287 in 2015 to 335 in 2016, accordingto data from the State Crime Lab. 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. 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.

Find more information about the program and how to bring it to schools at ArkansasAG.gov.