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President Pro Tempore Sen. Jim Hendren
President Pro Tempore
Arkansas Senate
State Capitol
500 Woodlane St. Ste 320
Little Rock, AR 72201-1090

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92nd General Assembly
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Prescription Drug Abuse a Growing Problem

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LITTLE ROCK - Drug abuse is not limited to illegal substances like cocaine and methamphetamine. Law enforcement officials and experts in drug addiction are also concerned about growth in the abuse of prescription drugs.
In Arkansas, the abuse of prescription drugs is particularly alarming because it is getting worse among teenagers. A report by a federal agency found that Arkansas led the nation in prescription drug abuse among teenagers in 2007. Another study, conducted in 2008, indicated that 22 percent of Arkansas teenagers had taken prescription drugs for fun rather than for treatment of an illness.
An official at the state Board of Pharmacy said that prescription drug abuse in Arkansas is growing exponentially. One reason is that people underestimate the danger of prescription drugs because they have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, when they are not used according to a doctor's prescription they can cause serious side effects, addiction and even death.
The attorney general, the state drug director and law enforcement officials have begun a campaign to educate the public and to encourage people to properly dispose of unused drugs. The campaign emphasizes the importance of monitoring how many drugs are in the family medicine cabinet and securing them from youngsters.
Finally, the campaign promotes proper disposal. If you have unused prescription drugs don't leave them around the house. Most drugs should be thrown out in the trash. Mix them with unpleasant substances like garbage, kitty litter or dirt. Peel the label off old drug bottles to prevent anyone from using it for an improper refill.
Some drugs should be flushed down the toilet. Call 1-888-463-6332 for information about disposing of old medications.
People often obtain prescription drugs by "doctor shopping." That means going to numerous physicians for multiple prescriptions for controlled drugs like powerful painkillers and anti-depressants.
Last year 12,787 people in Arkansas received substance abuse treatment offered through the state Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention. The office is within the Human Services Department.
The Drug Abuse Prevention Office licenses 51 treatment and prevention programs in Arkansas communities. Some of them have detoxification facilities, where people with a drug addiction can go for safe withdrawal from a controlled substance. Other programs offer counseling to help keep people from destroying their lives with drugs or alcohol. Some programs for women allow them to bring children with them, and teach parenting skills as well as drug counseling.
State Park Fee Increase
The state Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission is proposing a 10 percent increase in camping fees and rates at cabins and lodges in Arkansas state parks. The Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 2 p.m. on August 19 at Lake DeGray State Park. Written comments can be sent to the Director of State Parks at One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR, 72201.
Revenue from fees went down $400,000 since last year because of the poor economy and bad weather. If adopted the higher fees would generate an additional $1 million a year. They would take effect January 1, 2011.


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