Little Rock is the capital of Arkansas, and the most populous city. Incorporated in 1831, this city has around 194,000 inhabitants. Little Rock is the county seat of Pulaski County, and is located on the south bank of the Arkansas River. The name “Little Rock” comes from a rock formation along the river, which was called “le petit rocher” by French immigrants in the 1720s. The city is a cultural, transportation, government, and economic center; home to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and the Arkansas Arts Center. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and its healthcare partners (the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital) are collectively the largest public employers in the state.
In the late 1980s, Little Rock had a 50% increase in the number of teens under age 17 who were arrested for murder and also a 40% increase in murder arrests for people aged 18 to 24 years. By 1992, these numbers increased 256%, with Little Rock having the highest per-capita homicide rate in the country. Researchers believe this increase was related to the drug problems of the state, with 13% of adolescents using an illegal drug during the last month, and 3.3% of high school seniors admitting to cocaine use. In addition, rates of methamphetamine use in Arkansas were higher than the national average as of 2009 statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Fort Smith is home to 88,000 people and is one of the county seats in Sebastian County. Located along the Arkansas-Oklahoma border, Fort Smith is also at the junction of the Poteau and Arkansas Rivers, which is known as Belle Point. The city was a western military post back in 1817, and it later become well-known for settling of the “Wild West.” Fort Smith is the location of the new United States Marshals Service Museum. This city has seen a rise of Hispanic residents, with 7% of Spanish-speaking residents, as well as Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Lao. The economy is powered by manufacturing plants, such as Trane, Rheem, Gerber, Mars Petcare, Planters Peanuts, and many others. In addition, Fort Smith has many corporations, such as ArcBest and the ABB Group. The Sparks Health System is the city’s largest employer, followed by the Baldor Electric Company.
In 2009, 11% of drug treatment admissions were related to methamphetamine addiction, with another 1.5 million young people reporting use/abuse of alcohol during the past 12 months. Also, 1.2 million adolescents and young persons reported being addicted to or abusing an illicit drug. Based on the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services survey, Arkansas has around 3,600 people in a rehab or treatment program at any given time, with 84% of them receiving outpatient services. Rates of illegal drug dependence are higher for young females than men (5% vs 2.5%) but rates of other substance abuse were similar for the genders.
Fayetteville is the county seat of Washington County, and home of the University of Arkansas since the school’s founding in 1871. Located on the outskirts of the Boston Mountains, Fayetteville lies deep within the Ozarks. Fayetteville is named for Fayetteville, Tennessee, from which it’s settlers moved when they inhabited the area in the 1800s. Approximately 464,000 people live in this city, and the Walmart corporation has dominated the city’s economy for the past two decades. Alcohol and drug abuse treatment is available in Fayetteville in many different settings and types of programs. For those struggling with a substance abuse problem, rehabilitation centers offer detoxification, counseling, and aftercare services. Many residents who do not live directly in the city come here to get adequate rehab therapy. The city’s drug treatment programs accept private health insurance, as well as Medicare and Medicaid. Many of these regimen also offer payment assistance in the form of grants, loans, and payment plans. Like all major cities in Arkansas, Fayetteville has seen a rise in prescription drug addiction. Adolescent males in Arkansas account for 72% of all substance abuse treatment admissions, according to the 2009 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS). Of admissions, 50% are related to alcohol and drug treatment and another 46% are related only to drug addiction.
Located in Washington and Benton counties, Springdale is home to around 70,000 people. Considered to be part of a four-county Northwest region of Arkansas Metropolitan Area, the total population is estimated at 464,000. Springdale is situated on the Springfield Plateau of the Ozark Mountains and is home to the world headquarters of Tyson Foods, the largest meat producing company in the world and the city’s top employer. Many public features have the Tyson name, such as Don Tyson Elementary School and the Randal Tyson Recreational Complex. Agriculture and poultry are the top two industries of Springdale. In addition, the region’s gross domestic product grew 7% over the Great Recession years, with many businesses bouncing back during the last eight years. In cities like Springdale, inhalants are the most commonly abused substances among younger teens (snorting drugs), and Arkansas teens inhalant abuse is higher than the national average. Cocaine use rates in these metropolitan areas are even with the national average for persons ages 18 to 25. According to the NSDUH survey by SAMSHA, Arkansas students abuse prescription drugs, with 5.5% of them admitting to using these medications within the last 30 days.
Jonesboro is home to 121,026 people and is located in Craighead County. The New York Institute of Technology, College of Osteopathic Medicine and Arkansas State University are all in Jonesboro, and the St. Louis Southwester Railway passes through the city. The temperature is nice in Arkansas, with January averages ranging in the mid-40s and summer months from 80 to 92 degrees F. Jonesboro, AR is a middle-class town, with an average household income of $37,000, however the per capital income for the city was only $17,800 according to the 2010 Census. Many families live below the poverty line, which could contribute to the drug problem in this town. In 2008, arrests for cocaine were highest in Arkansas cities among African-American males. Rates of methamphetamine use is higher in this state than those of the national average, according to the NSDUH 2006 statistics. In 2009, 6% of high school students in Arkansas admitted to using meth at least once during their lifetime. 70% of arrests for meth are males, with 93% of these white men. Additionally, 10% of young adults in Arkansas use heroin, hallucinogens, or prescription drugs, according to TEDS 2009 statistics.
North Little Rock
Located in Pulaski County, North Little Rock lies across the Arkansas River from Little Rock. With a population of 63,000, North Little Rock is the new home of the Arkansas Travelers, a minor-league baseball team. The city was once known as “Argenta”, which is now the downtown region of the city. Additionally, the city has a total area of 47 square miles with 2.2 of these miles being water. Like many other Arkansas cities, North Little Rock is around 54% White and 40% African-American. The other 6% is made up of Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic people. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gave a $3 million federal grant to the Little Rock-North Little Rock area for a program that was set up to reduce opioid-related deaths. According to the State Surgeon General, 236 Arkansas residents died in 2013 due to opioid overdose.
Conway is located in Faulkner County, and is part of Arkansas’s most populated Metropolitan Statistical Region (Central Arkansas). Considered to be a suburb of Little Rock, Conway is a cultural, sports, and healthcare hub for the surrounding regions. Conway’s economy is based on technology, higher education, and service jobs. Home to Acxiom, Hewlett Packard, Insight Enterprises, and the University of Central Arkansas, Conway also has many small educational institutes, earning it the pet name “The City of Colleges.” Around 65,000 people live in Conway, and it is part of the combined Little Rock-North Little Rock area. The median household income in Conway is $42,600, with a family average income of $64,000. Around 9.3% of families live below the poverty line. One in four young people between ages 18 and 25 years admit to using marijuana during the last 12 months in cities like Conway, Arkansas. Another 16% of high school seniors reported smoking pot during the last 30 days. Marijuana use has increased 6.6% among young people between 2000 and 2008. Additionally, marijuana possession accounts for 65% of drug-related juvenile arrests, according to results from the 2006 Department of Health’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Rogers is a town in Benton County, AR, with a population of 56,000. Located in the northwestern region of the state, Rogers is part of the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Area. Rogers was named for Captain Charles Rogers, vice-president of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (Frisco). Established in 1881, the year Frisco arrived, Rogers was incorporated in June of that year. Rogers is the location of the very first Wal-Mart Store, and is home to Daisy Outdoor Products. Business Week Magazine ranks Rogers as the 18th best affordable suburbs in the South. According to the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas ranks only 42nd in the nation for alcohol consumption. A survey by the government found that the number of alcohol-related treatment admissions have increased from 2001 to 2011 by 135%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that Arkansas lung cancer deaths are much higher than other parts of the U.S., with 74 per 100,000 persons compared to 55 per 100,000 of national average.