An opioid education summit will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, at the Mulberry Community Center at 29 Kirksey Parkway.

The summit will be designed to educate the public on the opioid crisis in Crawford County, explore viable solutions and learn how to get involved. It will include statistics, stories and solutions dealing with the county crisis.

Dr. Lonnie Myers, superintendent of the Mulberry/Pleasant View School District, will give the welcome. Guest speaker will be Clint Henslee, a student at Mulberry High School.

Data on opioids in Crawford County will be distributed by Kent Thompson and Dr. Cheryl May, director of the Criminal Justice Institute, and Henslee will discuss possible solutions.

The summit will be hosted by the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute, Arkansas Department of Human Services and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association.

It will be geared toward reducing the number of prescription drug/opioids overdose-related deaths, according to Pat Brannin, liaison for the Criminal Justice Institute.

Last year, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced the immediate creation of a statewide standard for the widespread use of Naloxone, an FDA-approved nasal spray and capsule.

During the 2017 legislative session, Republican Sens. Cecile Bledsoe and Lance Eads of Rogers and Prairie Grove, and Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith, sponsored Act 284, which developed the state’s “Naloxone Standing Protocol.”

The legislation opened the door for licensed pharmacists in Arkansas to order, dispense and administer Naloxone without a prescription in the event of an opioids-related drug overdose. Boyd is a licensed pharmacist.

The new law, which became effective July 31 broadens the Arkansas Creates Naloxone Access Act of 2015, which allowed healthcare professionals by standing order to prescribe and dispense Naloxone to law enforcement officials and other first responders in the event of a drug overdose.

The new law could only take effect after a standing protocol was approved by the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy and the Arkansas State Medical Board.

The agenda also includes health literacy information and discussion of a media campaign about the Good Samaritan Law.

Criminal Justice Institute staff will reach out to local communities to form linkages, ensure participation and establish or expand local advisory councils to specifically address opioids.

The opioids epidemic has been called the worst drug crisis in American history. Death rates now rival those of AIDS during the 1990s, with overdoses from heroin and other opioids now killing more than 27,000 people a year, according to a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In 1999, there were more than twice as many motor vehicle deaths as fatal drug overdoses. By 2014, those numbers had flipped, with almost 40 percent more deaths from overdoses than car crashes. In all, 29,230 people died in car accidents in 2014, while 47,055 died from a drug overdose.

Arkansas saw the number of opioids-related deaths rise from 287 to 335 in 2016, according to the latest Center for Disease Control data.

Lunch will be served. Contact Keith Pigg at (479) 997-5622, e-mail: ktpigg@cox.net, or Frances Sawrie at (479) 209-0992, e-mail: fsawrie@mpvschools.com.