How Arizona Is Combating Opioid Abuse

Governor's Office

February 15, 2017

Today, Governor Ducey and Debbie Moak, director of the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith, and Family, attended the Arizona Substance Abuse Partnership quarterly meeting to discuss our state’s ongoing efforts to combat substance abuse and addiction.

We’ve taken a number of steps to address this increasingly urgent issue over the past two years, and we’re just getting started.

Here’s a quick look at what our state is doing --

Preventing And Treating Substance Abuse

Governor Ducey’s FY 2018 Executive Budget “Creates Five New Specialists Trained And Tasked With Fighting The Opioid Epidemic Head-On.” (“Governor Ducey Releases FY 2018 Executive Budget,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 01/13/17; “Governor: Arizona Education Is My Top Budget Priority,” Arizona Republic, 01/13/17)

In January 2017, Governor Ducey Signed An Executive Order To Ensure That Inmates Have The Opportunity To Be Treated With Vivitrol In Order To Facilitate A Successful Transition Out Of Prison. “First, Governor Ducey issued a new executive order to ensure that inmates facing addiction have the opportunity to enter a pilot program and be treated with Vivitrol before leaving prison in order to help their transition succeed. Vivitrol, medication that blocks addictions, has been called a “Miracle Drug.” The program will continue with post release treatment as well. The executive order is intended to decrease recidivism and give these inmates a second chance at leading a healthy life.” (“Governor Ducey Addresses Opioid Addiction With New Executive Order, Letter To State Medical Board,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 01/09/17; Executive Order: 2017-01, Office Of The Arizona Governor, 01/09/17)

KJZZ: “Ducey Targets Opioid Addiction Among Arizona’s Incarcerated.” “Gov. Doug Ducey is continuing to tackle the opioid epidemic in Arizona. During his time in office, Ducey has tried to chip away at the opioid epidemic, from new prescription guidelines to setting up a substance abuse task force. Now he’s extending those efforts to the state’s incarcerated populations.” (Will Stone, “Ducey Targets Opioid Addiction Among Arizona’s Incarcerated,” KJZZ, 01/09/17)

In January 2017, The Governor’s Office Of Youth, Faith, And Family Announced That Would It Be Investing More Than $3 Million In Substance Abuse Programs In Arizona High Schools. “The Governor’s Office for Youth, Faith and Family will release about $3.5 million in new funding for substance abuse prevention programs for high school youth—a key demographic to target when tackling Arizona’s opioid epidemic. Debbie Moak, director of the office, said at a news conference on Tuesday to discuss Arizona’s opioid epidemic that Gov. Doug Ducey has placed priority on combatting substance abuse. A critical part of the effort is prevention, especially for Arizona’s youth, she said.” (Sophia Kunthara, “$3.5 Million Allocated For High School Substance Abuse Prevention,” Cronkite News, 01/17/17)

In January 2017, Governor Ducey Sent A Letter To The Arizona Medical Board and Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners Requesting That Physicians In Arizona Be Required To Complete Continuing Education In Drug Addiction. GOVERNOR DUCEY: “Therefore, I am calling on the Board to require that one of the forty Continuing Medical Education hours that are biennially required to renew an Arizona medical license be in the area of addiction or SAMHSA-supported opioid prescribing.” (Letter to Arizona Medical Board and Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners, Office Of The Arizona Governor, 01/09/17)

GOVERNOR DUCEY: “A Critical Component Of Fighting This Opioid Epidemic Is Ensuring That Our State’s Doctors Have The Training And Expertise Necessary To Identify And Treat Addiction.” (Letter to Arizona Medical Board and Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners, Office Of The Arizona Governor, 01/09/17)

In October 2016, Governor Ducey Signed An Executive Order Limiting The First Fill Of Addictive Prescription Opioids In All Cases Where The State Is The Payer. “This morning Governor Doug Ducey marked the kickoff of Red Ribbon Week by signing an executive order that limits the first fill of addictive prescription opioids to 7 days in all cases where the state is the payer.” (“Curbing Opioid Addiction Through Executive Order,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 10/24/16)

The Executive Order Also Limits All Fills For Children Except Those Facing Specific Medical Conditions. “Additionally, the measure limits all fills for children, except for those with cancer, chronic disease and traumatic injury.” (“Curbing Opioid Addiction Through Executive Order,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 10/24/16)

In May 2016, We Passed Legislation Allowing Pharmacists To Dispense Naloxone To Certain Individuals. Naloxone Is Opioid Antagonist Medication That Can Counteract An Overdose. (House Bill 2355, Arizona State Legislature, Signed 05/12/16)

The Legislation Allows Naloxone To Be Dispensed “To A Person Who Is At Risk Of Experiencing An Opioid-Related Overdose Or To Others Who Are In A Position To Assist That Person.” (“Fact Sheet For H.B. 2355,” Arizona State Legislature, Accessed 02/15/17; House Bill 2355, Arizona State Legislature, Accessed 02/15/17)

GOVERNOR DUCEY: “We're Giving Family Members The Tools To Save A Loved One’s Life.” GOVERNOR DUCEY: “As we work to curb the trend of addiction, we are also focused on helping those already suffering. In 2014, 552 people died of opioid poisoning in Arizona. Thanks to Rep. Heather Carter and all who championed on behalf of HB 2355, we're giving family members the tools to save a loved one’s life.” (“Governor Doug Ducey Signs Bills To Help Arizonans Suffering From Addiction,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 05/12/16)

In May 2016, We Passed Legislation To Target “Doctor Shopping,” The Harmful Method By Which Some People Try To Obtain Several Prescriptions From Different Physicians At The Same Time. (Senate Bill 1283, Arizona State Legislature, Signed 05/12/16)

The Legislation Requires Medical Practitioners In Arizona To “Obtain A Patient Utilization Report From The Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program’s Central Database” Before Prescribing Certain Controlled Substances, Intended To Deter Doctor Shopping. (“Fact Sheet For S.B. 1283,” Arizona State Legislature, Accessed 02/15/17; Senate Bill 1283, Arizona State Legislature, Accessed 02/15/17)

GOVERNOR DUCEY: “An Important Step In Preventing New Addictions And Even Death.” GOVERNOR DUCEY: “In an average month, more than 1,000 Arizonans are in possession of as many as four prescriptions at a time from four different doctors. . . . This is an important step in preventing new addictions and even death, as prescription opiates can serve as a gateway to more dangerous and often fatal illegal drugs.” (“Governor Doug Ducey Signs Bills To Help Arizonans Suffering From Addiction,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 05/12/16)

In February 2016, Governor Ducey Appointed The Substance Abuse Task Force To Find Solutions To The Increasingly Urgent Issue. “Governor Doug Ducey today announced members of the Arizona Substance Abuse Task Force—a coalition of leading substance abuse experts, providers and community members focused on addressing and reversing the growing epidemic of drug abuse and addiction in Arizona communities by finding the best treatments and reducing barriers to care.” (“Governor Doug Ducey Appoints Substance Abuse Task Force,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 02/23/16)

We Continue To Build Partnerships In The Public And Private Sectors In Order To Emphasize Our All-Hands-On-Deck Strategy. GOVERNOR DUCEY: “Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic affecting every state. It requires an all-hands-on-deck approach from us all.” (Twitter, 09/02/16)

For Instance, Our State Partnered With Walgreens “To Implement Safe Medication-Disposal Bins In 18 Walgreens Stores Across The State . . . [Which] Will Allow People To Dispose Of Opiate-Based Painkillers And Other Leftover Prescription Drugs.” “Gov. Doug Ducey spoke at a Phoenix Walgreens on Friday morning to discuss new efforts in the fight against opiate drug addiction and other prescription drug abuse. . . . He worked with Walgreens to implement safe medication-disposal bins in 18 Walgreens stores across the state. These bins will allow people to dispose of opiate-based painkillers and other leftover prescription drugs.” (Alexis Egeland, “Ducey, Walgreens Announce Effort To Curb Prescription Drug Abuse,” Arizona Republic, 09/03/16)

Working To Stop Harmful Drugs At The Source

In September 2015, Governor Ducey Created The Border Strike Force To Target Illegal Drugs Being Brought Into The United States. “Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered the Arizona Department of Public Safety to create a border strike force comprised of state troopers who will help law enforcement agencies along the Mexican border respond to crimes. . . . ‘There is no limit to the violence and lawlessness committed by criminals who use our southern borders to smuggle people, illicit drugs, and money derived from criminal activities,’ Ducey wrote to [Cochise County Sheriff Mark] Dannels.” (Bob Christie, “Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Creates State Police Border Force,” Associated Press, 11/12/15)

In November 2016, Governor Ducey Testified Before A U.S. Senate Committee To Highlight The Positive Work The Border Strike Force Is Doing. GOVERNOR DUCEY: “Some of these damages can’t be undone. But they can be prevented in the future. . . . And we’re taking action . . . by aggressively targeting the supply . . . [which is] why I’ve created the Arizona Border Strike Force Bureau.” (“America’s Heroin Epidemic at the Border: Local, State, and Federal Law Enforcement Efforts to Combat Illicit Narcotic Trafficking,” United States Senate, 11/23/15)

From the Launch Through December 2016, The Border Strike Force Has:

  • Made more than 1,300 arrests
  • Seized more than 30,000 pounds of marijuana
  • Seized more than 6.5 million hits of heroin
  • Confiscated more than $7 million in cold hard cash

In Fact, The Border Strike Force Seized More Heroin In The First Four Months Of Its Existence Than Had Been Seized During The Entire Year In 2014. (“The Executive Budget – Summary – Fiscal Year 2017,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, January 2016)