FORT SMITH, Ark. — Opioid-related deaths in the Natural State have been on the rise over the last few years. One of the areas to see the highest increase in Arkansas is the River Valley.
“In Sebastian County, we had an overdose death increase of 220% from 2019 to 2020,” said Dan Goulette, regional provider leader for Ideal Option, an addiction treatment center.
The increase in the River Valley is being blamed on a lack of resources for those addicted to opioids to get help. Aaron Bunch, the community outreach coordinator for Ideal Option Arkansas, says, “A lot of this comes from COVID-19.” Saying it was, unfortunately, a “perfect storm” for people to begin to use opioids.
Ideal Option in Fort Smith opened in June of 2020 and is working to treat those addicted to opioids and other substances in a setting that’s just like a primary care clinic.
“Since then, we welcomed 350 new patients in Fort Smith,” Goulette said.
Treating patients with FDA-approved medications, they’re hoping to reach more. “Our goal is to assess the patient holistically, initiate medications to manage the opioid disorder, and set the patient up for a successful long-term recovery,” said Goulette.
Connecting them with community resources to help with housing and eating disorders and working with law enforcement to get them the additional help they need.
“Letting them know that we are there, that we are in option, Bunch said. Continuing saying, “We’re trying to get these people before they are incarcerated.”
Working to help to lower the number of those addicted in the River Valley.
“We are changing lives and changing them for the better.”
Ideal Option welcomes everyone and takes most insurances, and for those who dont have insurance, they’ll work with you to find the best option for treatment.
Ideal Option is located on Lexington Ave. in Fort Smith. They are open Monday through Thursday, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.