FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas Drug Director Boyce Hamlet honored several Fayetteville Police officers on November 15 for their roles in helping to combat the opioid epidemic.

According to Arkansas Take Back, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. and “opioid use is driving this epidemic.” Arkansas is second in the nation for over-prescribing opioid medications, at 114.6 opioid prescriptions per 100 people. The national average is 66.5 per 100 people.

Arkansas Take Back notes that numerous programs have been enacted to help, including Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Naloxone kit programs and Community Advisory Councils throughout the state.

Arkansans returned nearly 27,000 pounds of prescription medications on the state’s 24th semi-annual Drug Take Back Day on October 29. The event included over 300 participating locations across Arkansas.

The organization’s website features an Opioid Dashboard with an assortment of statistics, including the number of incidents in which Naloxone saved someone’s life in Washington County. According to that dashboard, there have been 31 “Naloxone saves” through August this year.

Fayetteville Police officer Parrish Diaz appreciates having the tools to save people’s lives this way.

“Whenever we do this job, you go day to day, and you touch many lives,” he said. “This job is very unique, because we are able to do that.”

The Arkansas Naloxone Project has saved 1,675 lives in the state to date.