As the Drug Director for the state of Arkansas, I have the responsibility of overseeing all state-funded substance prevention, substance treatment, and substance recovery activities and programs; advising the governor’s office on drug and alcohol policy issues; overseeing the (fiscal) funding of 19 drug task force units in Arkansas; and overseeing the Arkansas Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coordinating Council. Monitoring, securing, and disposing of unused and expired prescription medication is a major priority in my office, but it’s one of the many things our office does. The absolute top priority is to save lives, which all of our programs are designed with this as the overarching priority in mind.
There are less than a dozen states that have a structure like ours where the Drug Director, serving as the single-state-authority, is responsible for managing federal grants received to operate our programs. Grants such as the Substance Abuse Block Grant, Partnerships for Success grant, and State Opioid Response grant allows for developing prevention program activities, funding treatment providers, and building a network of Peer Support Specialists. Thanks to the support of our federal and state partners, the state of Arkansas is also now addressing substance misuse in the collegiate environment.