152 law enforcement agencies at 171 sites across the state collected 28,035 pounds or 14 tons of old or expired prescription drugs, making the 14th National Drug Take Back Event held Saturday, October 28th, the most successful Take Back Event to date for the state. The total number of pills collected is estimated at 28.9 million. Arkansas ranks #11 nationally in weight collected and #5 in weight collected per capita.
“The most important statistic in every year’s Take Back event is a number that we’ll never know – the number of tragedies we prevent and the lives we save by tossing out old prescription drugs at the collection sites,” Governor Asa Hutchinson noted. “I applaud Director Lane for his leadership in making our state a safer place.”
Director Lane thanked participants, saying, “I am proud to see this record setting number for Arkansas that will have a lasting life-saving impact on our state physically as well as environmentally. The hard work and partnerships that made this possible as well as the participation of Arkansans demonstrates that working together we can solve this issue.”
Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the U.S., exceeding vehicle fatalities by 50 percent. More than 143 people in America die each day due to a drug overdose. In Arkansas, 1,067 people have died from a drug overdose in a 3-year span (319 in 2013, 356 in 2014, and 392 in 2015). Arkansas is also in the top 20 percent of states that prescribe the most painkillers per capita. It is these facts that led to the death of Nicholas Kellar on April 14, 2017, a life cut too short by prescription drug abuse, and it is also a familiar story for too many families in the growing trend of opioid addiction leading to heroin addiction, that too often causes death.
This very successful Arkansas Drug-Take-Back day was dedicated to the memory of Nicholas “Cheezy” Alexander Kellar who was born January 7, 1994 in Fort Gordon, Georgia. He was only 23 when he died of an accidental fentanyl overdose following a long, hard battle with addiction. Nicholas was the son of Rory and Suzanne Tipton.