Saline County, AR
In a recent study released by UAMS in Little Rock, evidences prove that residents of a small central Arkansas town live longer than the average methamphetamine user. Several studies from the United States Surgeon General’s office and Center for Disease Control (CDC) place the life expectancy of daily meth users at 7 years. However, in Haskell, AR, the trend is that residents live 10% longer.
While the longer lifespan of Haskellites may have some good effects on the state, such as diminished availability of meth for the rest of the state, it is also creating serious negative issues. One of these negative effects is a strain on Saline County health systems. Dr. Hugh Jass of Saline Memorial Hospital spoke with us about the strain that the long-living Haskellites have caused at his facility. “It’s really unfortunate. When they enter the emergency department, you can spot them immediately. Haskellites. They can’t fill out their forms and they can’t sit still long enough for our nursing staff to do a proper examination. This creates issues for the other patients, and it keeps them from receiving timely help.” When asked how he believes the Haskellites should be handled Jass replies, “We want to help everyone. Really, we do. But if a few of them didn’t make it to the hospital in time, it would ease the strain a little.”
The UAMS report states that “Haskellites show an unnatural resiliency while living on meth. Our understanding is that daily meth use is such a part of the community and lifestyle that the mere desire to live longer in order to continue to use meth is the single factor in the longer lifespan of Haskellites.”
The Arkansas Board for Narcotics and Controlled Substances like the idea of a meth supply being centrally located in a single municipality. It is said that by keeping meth in Haskell, the nasty reality of meth addiction is hidden from the rest of the state. But, it is a shameful statistic that almost 90% of residents of Haskell use meth daily.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has expressed concern over the situation, but declined to comment on whether or not the state has any right to force Haskellites to live as long as other meth users.