News Releases

Rutledge Launches Prescription for Life in Academies of West Memphis


December 12, 2017

First school in eastern Arkansas to use curriculum

WEST MEMPHIS – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was joined by Walmart today to continue the launch of her first-in-the-nation education initiative called “Prescription for Life” at Academies of West Memphis. Prescription for Life features a digital platform to help high school students in the State understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. Walmart officials attended the West Memphis event in support of Prescription for Life as part of the retailer’s plans to expand its commitment to prescription drug education in Arkansas and other states in the coming months.

Academies of West Memphis is the 26th Arkansas high school to adopt the curriculum with more than 1,300 students using the program to learn about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and misuse. Prescription for Life comes at no cost to participating schools in Arkansas.

Arkansas currently ranks highest, per capita, in misuse of prescription drugs by those 13 to 17 years old.

“By bringing Prescription for Life to Academies of West Memphis, teachers and administrators are showing a commitment to tackling the opioid epidemic and setting an example for others to follow,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas is the first in the nation to launch such an educational program, and it is my goal that it will become a model for other states that will no doubt help save lives.”

In addition to Walmart, Rutledge was joined by U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland in observing a class of students going through the 30-minute course, which was followed up with a post-assessment survey to measure changes in students’ attitudes and behavior.

“The health and safety of our patients is a critical priority and therefore Walmart is committed to be part of the solution to the nation’s opioid epidemic,” Dr. Lisa Smith, a pharmacist and Walmart Regional Health and Wellness Director said. “We believe education on prescription drug abuse is a key part of the solution we are proud to help fund this program that will teach Arkansas school children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.”

“We are proud to partner with Attorney General Rutledge in our efforts to curb the increasing opioid epidemic in our state,” Hiland said. “President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have made it clear that the reduction in opioid addiction and crimes related to the spread of opioid-related drugs is a top priority for federal law enforcement across the nation.”

Using an evidence-based public health approach, the digital course empowers high school students with the skills and knowledge they need to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs. The course is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health Education Standards and State academic standards.

The self-paced modular course uses video, animations, simulations and interactivity to deliver a personalized, self-guided learning experience. The real-life simulations demonstrate the impact misuse can have on students’ physical and mental health, relationships and future goals while the scenario-based exercises help students practice how to support other students in their choices regarding the safe use of prescription drugs.
Educators from the Attorney General’s office are also available to conduct teacher in-service trainings in person and through webcasts and give presentations to parent and community groups throughout the State about how to talk with young people about risks associated with opioid use and how to recognize signs that their loved ones are abusing drugs.

The curriculum is part of the Attorney General’s already robust prescription drug abuse prevention initiative. During 2016, more than 330 pounds of prescription drugs were collected at Attorney General Mobile Offices across Arkansas and over 160 pounds have been collected since the beginning of 2017.

Drug overdose deaths are on the rise in Arkansas, increasing from 287 in 2015 to 335 in 2016, according to 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 or other settings at ArkansasAG.gov.

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