The Student Government Association at Southern Arkansas University will hold an Opioid Awareness Week, March 11-15, 2019. SAU will be joining 17 other institutions around Arkansas to take on the issue of substance abuse across the state.

SAU Housing and Greek Life will also be participating in the weeklong event, which begins Monday, March 11, with a kickoff ceremony at the State Capitol in Little Rock. Members of SGA will travel to the Capitol to attend the press conference to start the week. Gov. Asa Hutchinson will be among the speakers.

SAU’s awareness festivities begin at noon on Tuesday, March 12, with a kick-off ceremony in front of the Reynolds Center. Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann and SGA President Adriana Valentine will speak. Food will be provided for students.

An Organization Fair is set for noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, in the Reynolds plaza. There will be games, events and information tables sponsored by the Counseling Center, UAMS, University Police, Greek Life and SAU President’s Ambassadors. There will also be free T-shirts, stickers and buttons.

A panel discussion will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 14, in Foundation Hall in the Reynolds Center. Kasey Jones, Tafarra Haney, Chuck Benet, and SAU Police Chief Jeff Jester will speak. At 1:10 p.m. there will be a Dose of Reality Presentation in Grand Hall, followed by an awards ceremony for students and organizations that participated throughout the entire week.

SGA wants to reach as many students, faculty and staff as possible. “We are more than thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this event,” said Valentine.

Opioid in the state of Arkansas is the second highest prescription rate in the country. In 2016, there were 169 opioid-related overdose deaths in Arkansas which would be rated at 5.9 deaths per 100,000 persons. The national rate was 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons. The 18-25 age group has the highest rate for drug use.

Trevor Villines, event director, said, “It’s no secret that substance use is drastically affecting the state of Arkansas. It’s concerning that statistics have us toward the top for opioid prescriptions. It is very concerning seeing this issue affect our college campuses.”