Jonesboro sees more overdoses since pandemic

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 2:05 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (Great Health Divide) - Since the pandemic, overdoses have gone up by 30 percent across the country, according to the Drug Education Council.

Jonesboro has seen an increase in overdose calls and officers performing lifesaving care.

According to CDC data, more than 87,000 Americans died from an overdose over a one-year period ending in September 2020.

In Jonesboro, calls have more than doubled since the pandemic started.

In 2019, there were 63 calls. In 2020, there were 146, and JPD has already responded to 59 cases this year.

Police Cheif Rick Elliott says overdoses become an increasing problem each year, and he doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.

“We deployed Narcan 30 times, and you’ve got to bear in mind that’s 30 residents of Jonesboro that probably would not be here today if it were not for the officers carrying Narcan in their vehicles with them daily,” said Elliott.

Narcan is the brand name for naloxone, a drug that can treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency. It is being used more than ever in Jonesboro.

In 2017, there were just a couple of deployments, with a considerable increase by 2020.

“We’ve seen record numbers here in Jonesboro, and we don’t anticipate it getting any better,” said Elliott.

The Drug Education Council said that 90 percent of addiction begins during teenage years, with opioids being a huge factor.

“We suggest that you keep them locked up. If you have unwanted prescription meds, we ask that you do not dispose of them in a toilet. There are several drop-off locations around town,” said Elliott.

Elliott added that police dispose of an average of well over one thousand pounds of drugs a year, which is a huge success, saying people must continue to do their part.

“We suggest that you get some Narcan on hand at the house in case somebody got ahold of this accidentally,” said Elliott.

Elliott adds that every second counts, and counteracting an overdose could mean life or death. The nasal spray is available at pharmacies like CVS without a prescription.

If you think you’re experiencing an overdose, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more on addiction and how to get help, call the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). For more on resources, click here.

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