Senator John Boozman toured Saint Francis House in Springdale on Friday.
The local clinic was awarded $285,000 as part of a national effort to fight opioid addiction, including right here in our corner of the Natural State.
We spoke to one local mother who said she wishes this kind of relief was put in place years ago so her son could be home instead of in jail.
“Started doing drugs when he was about 15,” said Debbie Knightengale, whose son battled opioid addiction.
Knightengale said she’s lost countless amounts of time and money to a problem that put her son Michael behind bars.
“I can’t stand to see him go through it, and I just feel like my husband and I have lost some years because we’ve been battling with that,” Knightengale said.
Knightengale said it all started after Michael needed surgery for an injury, but he was never the same afterward.
“They put him on medication for that and I mean that’s kind of understandable that you would be in that kind of pain after surgery, but it didn’t stop he just kept on,” Knightengale said.
Boozman, who is behind the funding, said he believes this nationwide issue started with doctors.
“Sadly we’ve had a situation of over-prescribing,” Boozman said.
The situation has impacted many families like the Knightengales, who now have to deal with the problem they never thought could be an issue.
“This is something that has affected so many people, and as a result, they are looking for solutions,” Boozman said.
The funds granted to Saint Francis Community Clinic will be used for treatment, recovery and prevention methods.
“That’s not about locking people up, it’s about trying to make sure that people who want the treatment that they need it to get it,” Boozman said.
This new treatment program is providing hope for local families like the Knightengales.
“He can’t get away from it; he’s got to have a lot of therapy for this, and I feel like a drug rehab would be the way to go,” Knightengale said.
Boozman said this funding is only a step in the right direction to ending this opioid problem and more funding will need to continue research and prevention.
We reached out to Northwest Health, another local healthcare provider working to curb this problem.
In a statement, a Northwest Health official said in part, “Like many others — providers with Northwest physicians are concerned about the opioid crisis. In response to the epidemic of opioid abuse and to enhance the welfare of our patients, some of our primary care physicians have stopped prescribing opioids.”