The abuse of fentanyl is on the rise all across the United States, especially here in Northwest Arkansas.
According to the Arkansas State Crime Lab, Benton and Washington county ranks second and fourth highest in the state when it comes to fentanyl abuse. It’s something that local police are monitoring closely.
Fentanyl is a painkiller that is 50 to 100 times stronger than Morphine. Over the past 7 years, fentanyl abuse has increased all across Arkansas.
According to the DEA, illegal fentanyl is produced in China as a powder or pressed into pills. It’s then shipped by mail into the U.S., including Arkansas.
It’s something the Bentonville Fire Chief, Brent Boydston — who has been with the department for over 30 years– has noticed.
“We’ve had quite a few cases of it. It takes a lot of man power when you’re having to deal with somebody like that to keep them breathing and getting everything else set up. It’s not a real quick process to get everything started in a short amount of time.” Boydston said.
Bentonville Police Public Information Officer, Gene Page, said whenever there is a surge with a certain drug it’s usually because it’s most accessible at the time.
“It may just be availablity and what they can get a hold of. Most opiod base drugs are going to have the similar effect to it so I guess it’s whatever is easy reach of that person is wanting to use it, abuse it, or experiment with it.” Page said.
Because of the surge over the past few years, Bentonville P.D. is monitoring the drug abuse closely.
“inside our jurisdiction in Bentonville, we’ve been monitoring it for approximately about a year to see if we’re seeing any type of increases in uses or what we’re seeing on the street. So far we haven’t seen anything that would be consistent to show that we have an increase in any type of opiod base drug abuse.” Page said.
In just the first three months of this year, the Arkansas Crime Lab identified 56 positive samples of fentanyl. In 2016, there were 66 the entire year.