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Opioid crisis addressed in Red Ribbon Week campaign

Posted 20 Oct 2020

CONWAY, Ark. (Arkansas PBS) — Arkansas PBS, ArkansasIDEAS, and the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education have partnered for Red Ribbon Week 2020, Oct. 23-31, to provide resources, a series of public service announcements and a special episode of “Arkansas Week,” as well as promote a statewide screening established by the Arkansas Drug Director, Little Rock FBI office, DESE and the Arkansas Department of Health to help fight the opioid crisis.

“Nationally, we’ve seen a spike in drug overdoses since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Arkansas PBS is uniquely positioned to reach throughout the state, including our rural areas, with this important, potentially lifesaving public messaging,” Arkansas PBS CEO Courtney Pledger said. “We are proud to do our part by helping connect individuals with free resources available to them in Arkansas.”

This year's Red Ribbon Week theme – “Be happy. Be brave. Be drug free.” – will help amplify the campaign's mission to encourage children, families and communities to live healthy, happy and drug-free lives. Red Ribbon Week also focuses on helping all Arkansas communities to create strong and positive support systems for people struggling with drug addiction.

“It is essential that drug addiction awareness and education begin at a young age, and programs like the Red Ribbon Week campaign are leading that effort,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “The ongoing partnership between ADE, state and federal law enforcement, and other agencies brings a unified awareness to this critical issue, as well as efforts to remedy this problem.

“I encourage all Arkansans to review these important resources and have serious conversations about the lasting impact of drug addiction. We have a responsibility to each other and must be a part of the solution.”

In conjunction with Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Little Rock FBI field office, ArkansasIDEAS produced four public service announcements highlighting the toll of opioids in Arkansas, as well as the programs and opportunities available to fight the problem of addiction in the state.

Two of the PSAs – “What Does Loss Look Like?” and “What Does Help Look Like?” – offer first-hand interviews. Community member Cynthia Edwards discusses the loss of a loved one to addiction, while Dr. Johnathan Goree, UAMS chronic pain specialist, details the help available through UAMS that might prevent similar loss in the future.

The remaining two PSAs examine state programs created to make reporting and recovering from opioid addiction in Arkansas much easier. “What Does Addiction Look Like?” highlights the importance and effectiveness of the recently-instituted, statewide "Good Samaritan” law, while “What Does Recovery Look Like?” provides information on Arkansas's Opioid Peer Recovery Network, now in its second year of operation.

Additionally, “Arkansas Week Special Edition: Opioid Crisis,” airing Friday, Oct. 23, at 8 p.m., will address the ongoing opioid crisis in the state and the special measures Arkansas government and health care experts are taking to tackle the growing concern during the time of COVID-19.

Guests will include DEA Little Rock Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Justin King, FBI Little Rock Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Scott Reinhardt, Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane and Dr. Jonathan Goree of UAMS. Host Steve Barnes will lead the discussion, which will also feature a review of the FBI-produced documentary “Chasing the Dragon.”

This year's Red Ribbon Week will also include a statewide, same-day viewing of "Chasing the Dragon" in partnership with the Little Rock FBI, DESE, Arkansas Department of Health and other state and local organizations fighting to end the opioid addiction crisis.

“Alongside our state partners, the DEA and Arkansas PBS, we encourage our community members to adopt healthy, drug-free lifestyles,” FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch said. “Red Ribbon Week brings together parents, teachers, schools and businesses in an effort to counter the scourge of drugs in our state.

“We’re proud to be a part of this campaign, and we urge Arkansans to learn about the devastating effects of opioids and other illegal drugs.”

The PSA series, “Chasing the Dragon” screening information, links to resources and more is available at

Arkansas PBS is Arkansas’s only statewide public media network, which enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. Arkansas PBS delivers daily, essential, local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through multiple digital platforms, including on-demand services and YouTube TV, and the distinct channels Arkansas PBS, Arkansas PBS Create, Arkansas PBS KIDS, Arkansas PBS WORLD and Arkansas PBS AIRS on SAP. Members with Arkansas PBS Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. Arkansas PBS depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at Arkansas PBS is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro) and KETZ (El Dorado).