“It’s time . . . to let those suffering know that they’re not alone, and that recovery is possible.” - Governor Ducey
It’s National Red Ribbon Week—seven days dedicated to raising awareness about substance abuse and finding ways to prevent and treat this increasingly urgent issue in the United States.
You may have seen that Governor Ducey signed a new executive order Monday limiting (1) the first fill of addictive prescription opioids to seven days in all cases where the state is the payer and (2) all fills for children, except for those with cancer, chronic disease and traumatic injury.
This isn’t the first step Arizona has taken, and it won’t be the last. From helping to prevent “doctor shopping” to allowing pharmacists to dispense Naloxone to partnering with public- and private-sector organizations to implement safe medication-disposal bins, Arizona is leading the way.
Check out the research below to learn about a few actions our state is taking to address and reduce substance abuse.
Stopping 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 2015, Governor Ducey Testified Before A U.S. Senate Committee To Highlight The Positive Work That The 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)
In The First Four Months Of Its Existence, The Strike Force “Made Over 300 Arrests And Seized 4,400 Pounds Of Marijuana, 194 Pounds Of Meth, And 21 Pounds Of Heroin. . . . One Pound Of Heroin Produces Approximately 45,000 ‘Hits.’” (“The Executive Budget – Summary – Fiscal Year 2017,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, January 2016)
That’s More Heroin Than What Was Seized (14 Pounds) During The Entire Year In 2014. (“The Executive Budget – Summary – Fiscal Year 2017,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, January 2016)
The FY 2017 Budget Includes $26.6 Million To Expand The Strike Force And Continue Stopping The Flow Of Harmful Illegal Drugs Into The United States. (“Governor Doug Ducey Praises Passage Of Structurally Balanced Budget That Prioritizes K-12 Education,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 05/04/16)
Preventing And Treating Substance Abuse
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)
In May 2016, Arizona 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. (“Bill Status Overview – 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 10/24/16; “Senate Bill 1283,” Arizona State Legislature, Accessed 10/24/16)
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 May 2016, Arizona Passed Legislation Allowing Pharmacists To Dispense Naloxone To Certain Individuals. Naloxone Is Opioid Antagonist Medication That Can Counteract An Overdose. (“Bill Status Overview – 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 10/24/16; “House Bill 2355,” Arizona State Legislature, Accessed 10/24/16)
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)
Arizona Continues 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)