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One in four Americans has been directly impacted by the opioid crisis, but 40% still do not consider it to be a threat to their family, according to National Safety Council poll results.
In an attempt to end this persistent indifference, NSC launched the Prescribed to Death Memorial in November 2017. The Memorial will be open to the public Oct. 3-9 on the University of Arkansas campus, 435 N. Garland Ave., Fayetteville. The memorial puts a face on the worst drug crisis in recorded United States history, personalizing an issue that was declared a public health emergency last fall.
Fayetteville is the fifth stop on the memorial’s nationwide tour. Unveiled last November in Chicago, the memorial previously visited Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Buffalo, NY, and Washington, D.C., where it was displayed on the Ellipse in President’s Park at the White House. It will travel to Houston Oct. 22-24.
“The most important thing about this crisis is not the statistics, but the faces,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The data speak to our head but the individual stories speak to our hearts. The Prescribed to Death memorial not only brings visitors face to face with this everyday killer, but also encourages actions that will help us eliminate these preventable deaths.”
NSC launched Prescribed to Death – a multifaceted exhibit aimed at changing Americans’ attitudes toward opioids – as a part of the Council’s Stop Everyday Killers public education campaign. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a wall of 22,000 engraved white pills – each representing the face of someone lost to a prescription opioid overdose in 2015. Arkansas alone lost 169 residents to opioid overdose in 2016, and it has the second highest rate of opioid prescribing in the country – trailing only neighboring Alabama.
The memorial is accompanied by resources that help visitors both safely dispose of unused pills in their homes and facilitate discussions with prescribers about alternatives. Visitors receive first-of-their-kind “Opioids: Warn Me” labels to affix to their insurance cards, empowering them to discuss with prescribers the risks of taking opioids and whether other pain relief options are available. The Council has partnered with Stericycle – a Chicago-based waste disposal company – to provide Seal&Send medication disposal envelopes to help visitors easily get rid of unused medications. The envelopes are safe, reliable and anonymous.
“As the state with the second highest opioid prescribing rate and with 40 percent of our teens having reported trying prescription drugs, we must allocate the money, manpower and message to end this epidemic,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “I am proud to bring the Prescribed to Death exhibit to the University of Arkansas as part of my muti-faceted approach to tackling the opioid problem. I will not stand idly by as Arkansans are devastated by this epidemic, and I am thankful for the willingness of our city and county leaders and businesses to work collaboratively with my office to bring this educational wall to Arkansas.”
Individuals who have lost loved ones to opioid overdose will have the opportunity to honor them at the Arkansas Union. Guests can add their loved one’s name to a digital memorial provided by the National Safety Council, or remember them by sharing photos, flowers or personal effects on site. Please note, items will not be returned.
In addition to Attorney General Rutledge’s office, the exhibit is underwritten by contributions from Stericycle, Nationwide Insurance, Walmart, Arkansas Municipal League, Association of Arkansas Counties, Prescription Drug Safety Network - powered by EVERFI, and Schneider. Visit stopeverydaykillers.org for more information.