Troubled by drug deaths, tattooist posts odd offer
A North Little Rock tattoo artist is offering $100 worth of free ink to anyone who ditches illicit drugs in front of him.
During his morning coffee, Scott Diffee, who operates The Parlor Tattoo at 4603 E. Broadway, went on Facebook and made a pledge.
If a person takes in a “bag of dope be it heroin or ice” and “flush[es] it down the toilet in front of me,” that person will get a $100 tattoo for free, Diffee wrote.
“Ice” is a highly purified form of methamphetamine. Within hours, the post was liked hundreds of times.
The parlor charges $100 an hour with a $50 minimum. A black-and-white devil riding a skateboard, Tupac Shakur and Lego Batman are some of the dozens of possible $80 tattoos displayed on the inside walls.
The toilet Diffee mentioned is a metaphorical one. “That’s just my term of saying, let’s get rid of it,” he said.
The 46-year-old said he will talk to his friends in law enforcement to decide how to properly dispose of any drugs people take to him.
Later Tuesday, Diffee posted on Facebook that the idea may need “a little re-working” and asked people to give him proof that they’ve entered some form of treatment program.
Diffee said his original post was motivated, in part, by a rash of young adults
abusing hard-core substances. Diffee’s mother also used drugs, he said. She was convicted of killing his grandmother more than 20 years ago.
Matt White, who owns the Little Rock bar and music venue White Water Tavern, said he doesn’t think people “have any understanding of the epidemic that’s happening” in the area.
On Tuesday, White attended the funeral of a 23-year-old woman who died of a drug overdose last week.
While there, White said the funeral director informed him of a 20-year-old who had just died of a heroin overdose.
“He told me the name. And I know him,” White said, adding that he could name at least five people who died of overdoses in the past couple of months.
Area law enforcement agencies, including the Pulaski County sheriff’s office, have begun equipping officers with Narcan. It’s a brand of the anti-opioid medication naloxone that counteracts the effects of a narcotics overdose.
Since May, the sheriff’s office has made six Narcan “saves,” spokesman Lt. Cody Burk said.
National data indicate deaths linked to drug overdoses have increased drastically in the past 20 years. In 2014, more people died from drug overdoses in the United States than during any previous year on record, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Arkansas saw 356 drug poisoning deaths in 2014, and 392 in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, the CDC reported. The state’s overdose death rate is comparable to the national
Though more attention is being paid to heroin use, Diffee said methamphetamine is just as much of a threat. But meth users are often thought of as “speed-heads” or “junkies,” not as people, he said.
The parlor accepts all people, Diffee said Tuesday as he held forth from a portable chiropractic bed at his tattoo shop, wearing a skull ring the size of a walnut.
“I tattoo all the cops. I tattoo all the crooks,” he said.
“They say prostitution was the first profession. That girl had a tattoo, I’ll tell you that,” he later added.
The $100 tattoo promise is not about the money — “I’m robbing Peter to feed Paul around here” — or for his reputation, Diffee said. Rather, the ink will mark the day someone made a good choice, he said.
A message left in the afternoon for a North Little Rock Police Department spokesman seeking comment about Diffee’s idea was not returned.
A spokesman for the Little Rock Police Department said he would rather people turn over illicit substances to police agencies.
There might also be “some legal issues” with Diffee’s proposal, the spokesman, Lt. Michael Ford, said.
Burk with the Pulaski County sheriff’s office said Diffee’s “heart is in the right place, and everything like that, but I don’t think it will do much on their addiction.”
Drug dependence “is a disease that requires treatment,” a University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
spokesman said in an email.
The academic hospital operates the Center for Addiction Services and Treatment. More information on the center is available by calling (501) 526-8400.
The sheriff’s office and Little Rock police run prescription drug take-back programs.
Burk noted that officials don’t check the labels of the substances they receive and destroy.
Though his post gained social and news media attention, Diffee doubts many people will take him up on the offer. Those who use drugs like heroin “are messing with a giant,” he said.
“I won’t see five people that will come and do it.” Why?
“Because they’re addicted to drugs.”