A Dose of Reality

Recently, the greatest increase in drug-related deaths is due to the misuse of prescription drugs. But don’t think you and your friends get a pass because you’re young. In 2016 in Arkansas, the prescription painkiller death rate for those under 55 was nearly 5 times higher than it was in 2001.

Are you at risk?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumas experienced in childhood that cause toxic stress in the body. This stress can change brain chemistry, shape educational outcomes, and influence a person’s future health and well-being. It can also make you more susceptible to risky behavior and substance abuse.

Arkansas has the 2nd highest rate of ACEs in the United States[1] with about 56% of children having experienced at least 1 ACE compared to the national average of 46.3% among children aged 0-17 years[2]. Moreover, 30% of children in Arkansas have experienced 2 or more ACEs[3].

If you have experienced any of the following ACEs, you may be at risk for opioid abuse:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Physical or emotional neglect
  • Mental illness of a household member
  • Alcoholism or illegal drug use of a household member
  • Divorce or separation of a parent
  • Domestic violence towards a parent
  • Incarceration of a household member

Know yourself and know the signs.

What students and young people can do

  • If someone offers you pills that weren’t prescribed to you, say no. Encourage that person to dispose of them properly.
  • Never offer your own prescription painkillers to someone else. Be sure to lock them up or store them safely, out of reach of others.
  • If you find prescription painkillers at home, leave them alone. Better yet, ask the person whose name is on the label to lock them up or dispose of them if they’re no longer needed or expired.
  • Warn your friends about the dangers of abusing prescription painkillers, including the fact that 4 out of 5 heroin addicts start by abusing painkillers.

Resources for students

Get the facts on the dangers of prescription painkiller abuse.

Find out where there’s a Drug Take Back location near you.



[1] Arkansas 2018 State Profile

[2] Child Health Data – Adverse Childhood Experiences Among Arkansas’ Children

[3] Child Health Data – Adverse Childhood Experiences Among Arkansas’ Children