Governor Ducey and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona launch program to address opioid misuse

Governor Doug Ducey declared a public health crisis last year in response to the alarming increase in opioid-related deaths and overdoses. Now Governor Ducey has joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) to strengthen Arizona’s fight against the opioid crisis.                                                            
Last week, the Governor and BCBSAZ launched Mobilize AZ, a program that addresses opioid and other substance misuse. It is geared toward reducing overdose-related deaths throughout the state.

“Arizona is facing the opioid epidemic head-on by holding bad actors accountable and providing the tools and resources medical professionals, law enforcement and treatment providers need in order to save lives. While we’ve seen positive signs of progress, our work is not done,” said Governor Ducey in a press release. “Blue Cross Blue Shield has long been a champion of public health in our state and we’re grateful for their investment and continued dedication to winning this fight against opioids. With partners like this, our efforts will continue to strengthen.”

Mobilize AZ includes a grant program that is currently accepting applications from community organizations involved in education, treatment and recovery. It will award a minimum of $1 million every year, for three years, to approved organization.

BCBSAZ’s endeavors are a helpful addition to the efforts of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act. As stated in a press release from Governor Ducey’s office, the legislation “takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid epidemic through areas like expanding treatment, improving enforcement and oversight, preventing addiction, and reversing overdoses.”

In addition to Governor Ducey’s partnership with BCBSAZ, he also teamed up with Walgreens in the implementation of medication disposal kiosks throughout Arizona.

The kiosks are designed to provide people with an easy way to dispose of unneeded medications, including opioids, knowing they will not end up in the wrong hands. In 2016, 18 Walgreens locations featured the kiosks. Now, Arizonans have access to 35 medication disposal kiosks, as stated in a press release from Governor Ducey’s office.

The fight against opioids doesn’t stop there.

About 100 Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) officers who are part of the Enforcement and Compliance Division are now trained “to identify opioid overdoses and administer a drug to reverse the effects,” according to a news release from ADOT.

“This kind of training allows our officers to respond quickly to various types of situations at the ports of entry and in the field,” Tim Lane, director of the Enforcement and Compliance Division said in a press release. “ADOT looks to do its part in helping combat opioid abuse in Arizona.”

Arizona’s initiatives are in response to an alarming rise in opioid-related deaths and overdoses. The 2016 Arizona Opioid Report shows opioid deaths in Arizona increased by 74 percent from 2012 to 2016.

Information provided by 2016 Arizona Opioid Report

The state’s programs and other initiatives aim to combat opioid misuse,  decrease opioid-related deaths and overdoses, and to help those who are struggling with addiction.

Sierra Ciaramella

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