Law Enforcement Addresses Opioid Crisis

by Meagen Matuszyk
Delta Digital News Service

Opioid Crisis

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JONESBORO — A national crisis makes its way to Jonesboro as an influx in opioid addiction moves through the Delta region.

Most commonly found in painkillers, opioids act as pain relievers, and are most commonly found in heroin and prescription drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. Jonesboro Police Department’s Sgt. Cassie Brandon said the rate of controlled substance charges for the area is steadily increasing.

“It is against the law to possess a controlled prescription medication if you don’t have a prescription for it,” Brandon said.

In 2015 more than a million Americans were arrested for possession of a controlled substance.

“We have officers within the department that are specifically trained to do some evaluations or assessments with people to determine what it is that they are under the influence of,” Brandon said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses killed more than 50,000 Americans during 2015. Dr. Mark Sifford of the St. Bernard’s Medical Center said introducing unfamiliar drugs to your body can slow down your breathing, lower your blood pressure and alter your level of consciousness.

“They will neglect their own health just to pursue what they have to do to get the medicine they’re addicted to now,” Sifford said.

Sifford said it’s no surprise that the use of heroin is growing in popularity since it is a cheaper alternative to morphine and pain relievers.

“That’ll develop a physical dependence on it where they’re hooked and essentially have to take the medicine or they’ll have problems coming off of it,” Sifford said.

Some prescription pain relievers such as hydrocodone can develop dependencies in as early as three weeks.

“It may be to the point where they’re no longer needing pain relief, they’re just getting the euphoria from it and your brain can’t separate that out,” Sifford said.

The use of narcotics and opioids in the presence of children can be especially dangerous, often requiring involvement from the Department of Human Services. Brandon said if abuse of a prescribed or an unprescribed drug is detected, DHS should be contacted immediately.

“You just don’t need to expose children to that,” Brandon said.

The Jonesboro Police Department is actively working to help diminish the abuse of opioids in the area and asks others to do their part in assisting the fight to end the national epidemic.