Funding the Fight

opioid_abuseBattling the opioid epidemic in our state just got a hefty boost….to the tune of $2.2 million dollars! That’s how much the University of Arizona and the state health department will divvy up, according to U.S. News and World Report, “to train rural firefighters and police officers in how to recognize and treat opioid overdoses.”


The federal grant announced Wednesday will help pay for the university’s Center for Rural Health and the state Bureau of Emergency Services to provide the training. They will train emergency responders, family and community members how to recognize symptoms, intervene with a counteracting drug and refer people for treatment.

The grant comes as the state battles what Gov. Doug Ducey calls a statewide health emergency over the narcotics. He plans to call the Legislature into special session this month to consider a bill tightening restrictions on prescription drugs.

According to a news release from the University of Arizona, “To date, more than 1,000 first responders have been trained to carry and administer naloxone, more than 3,600 naloxone doses have been dispensed and more than 2,500 naloxone doses have been administered to help reverse opioid overdoses, according to ADHS.

“The training program funded by this grant has the potential to save hundreds of lives in Arizona,” said UA President Robert C. Robbins. “The opioid epidemic is a national public health emergency, and we are very proud of the UA Center for Rural Health’s 36-year record for improving the health and wellness of rural and underserved populations in Arizona.”

Meanwhile, Walmart just announced that it will offer a free kit that allows patients to safely throw out unused opioid prescription pills at home. The packet, called DisposeRx, dissolves pills into a biodegradable gel. in Tucson added:

Every prescription for a “class two” opioid from Walmart and Sam’s Club will come with a packet from “Dispose Rx”. The packet will break down any unused pills, when mixed with water. The move will make drugs safe to throw away in the trash.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the impact these two latest weapons will have in our state’s fight to curb the ongoing opioid epidemic. We also encourage you to share any ideas that you believe could make a difference in 2018. Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues affecting the people of our state is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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