FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Opioid-related deaths continue to rise across the state especially in the River Valley.

Dr. James Meserow works at a local addiction treatment center.

He says between 2019 and 2020 there was a 44% increase in overdose deaths in Arkansas.

Benton County saw a 109% jump. Sebastian saw a 220% increase and there was a 400% rise in opioid-related overdose deaths in Crawford County.

Meserow says access to consistent care is crucial to get opioid addiction under control.

“Once people have established opioid use disorder, once it becomes established, it behaves like a lot of chronic recurring medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, COPD,” Meserow said. “In that, there’s not a magic immediate cure.”

Meserow says the pandemic could have been a primary driver in the increase.