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Nationwide increase in drug overdose deaths impacts ArkLaTex

Opioid overdoses are increasing nationwide.
Opioid overdoses are increasing nationwide.(WLBT)
Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 3:46 PM CDT
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TEXARKANA, Ark. (KSLA) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of Americans dying from drug overdoses is on the rise, including here in the ArkLaTex.

The River Ridge Treatment Center in Texarkana serves 15 southwest Ark. counties. Counselors at the center say the increase in drug overdoses during the pandemic is not surprising. They believe the cause is related to many treatment programs being shutdown due to COVID-19 protocols.

“They didn’t have to give a urinalysis to their probation or parole officer, so they knew it was safe to use and they wouldn’t get in trouble and have to go back to jail for a dirty urine test. So, it prompted them to go on using whatever drug of choice,” said Bridgette Taylor, drug counselor at River Ridge Treatment Center.

According to a report from the CDC, nationwide drug overdose deaths have increased by around 30 percent during the pandemic. The change in Louisiana 56.2 percent, 39 percent in Arkansas, 37.5 in Texas and 22.8 in Oklahoma. The report listed opioids as the cause of the highest number of overdose deaths.

“Fentanyl seems to be the most we are hearing about here,” said Patty Hinojos, drug counselor at River Ridge Treatment Center.

Drug counselors here say when the treatment programs fully reopen, the overdose deaths should decrease.

“I hope that people get back in the rooms of recovery and realize there are some drugs out there now-a-days that is killing people daily,” said Eric Parks, drug counselor at River Ridge Treatment Center.

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