December 13, 2023
By: Emily DeWalt, Prevention Specialist
The devastating effects of the opioid epidemic have lead communities to band together to combat the crisis. In Arizona, we have seen organizations and coalitions bring awareness to the dangers of opioid misuse with a particular focus on illegally-made fentanyl. Other groups have taken political action to prosecute those responsible for dealing counterfeit pills. There are also a large number of substance use treatment facilities available to those looking to recover from drug misuse. With both prevention and intervention efforts addressing the opioid epidemic, we hope this will lead the state of Arizona on a path of positive change.
A group of students from the Tempe Union High School District have filled a gap for drug awareness messages: a way to reach young people effectively. The No Second Chances campaign began two years following the death of student Ethan Dukes, 16. In February of 2019, Ethan had taken a counterfeit pill at a party, not knowing that it contained a lethal dose of fentanyl. Ethan’s mother Shari strongly advocated for awareness of the dangers of fentanyl by talking to the district’s emotional wellness director, which prompted students of Corona del Sol High School to take action. This was the start of the No Second Chances campaign. Since its beginning, No Second Chances has met with family survivors and local prevention specialists, and have created awareness videos that have been shared within their school and publicly as well.
No Second Chances is just one of many programs that promote drug awareness and prevention. Substance Abuse Coalition Leaders of Arizona (SACLAz) has a website that allows people to find substance abuse coalitions local to their area. In addition to their “Coalition Map” tab, SACLAz also has a toolkit of educational materials developed for other coalition members and the community at large. This toolkit has been an excellent resource for the Pendergast Community Coalition, where we’ve been utilizing the knowledge we’ve gained to make presentations and social media materials of our own. Ongoing information sharing and collaboration between substance abuse coalitions is beneficial to the community so that people may receive the latest updates regarding drugs in their area.
Awareness and prevention is an important component in combatting the opioid crisis, but one organization in particular believes more can be done. Drug Induced Homicide is an organization that encourages and supports law enforcement and families to take legal action against the drug dealers that sold their children lethal counterfeit pills. The organization gives the community opportunity to participate by signing petitions for changes in laws, attending rallies and contacting their local congressman. The organization’s website also features photos and stories of loved ones lost to opioid overdose death as well as the status of legal action being taken for each case.
Through prevention efforts, resource sharing, and promoting justice for victims of overdose, there is a lot of hope that the crisis will get better. In the meantime, there are many people who regularly use opioids that need support. One of our earlier blogs discusses the concept of harm reduction in keeping people who use drugs safe. There are organizations that provide supplies and resources to reduce the risk of overdose for those that do not wish to stop their drug use. For those that are ready to recover, however, substance use recovery treatment might be a viable option. Below you will see a number of Arizona-based clinics and facilities for those wanting or needing to recover:
Thanks for reading! We look forward to publishing and sharing our next blog with you. 😊
1. The 74 (2023). Fentanyl is Poisoning Arizona’s Teens. Students Are Reducing Overdoses, One PSA at a Time. Last viewed December 11, 2023. Available at: https://www.the74million.org/article/fentanyl-is-poisoning-arizonas-teens-students-are-reducing-overdoses-one-psa-at-a-time/
2. Drug Induced Homicide (2023). Why Are Drug Dealers Getting Away With MURDER? Last viewed December 11, 2023. Available at: https://druginducedhomicide.org/
3. Substance Abuse Coalition Leaders of Arizona (2023). SACLAz Toolkit. Last viewed December 11, 2023. Available at: https://saclaz.org/toolkit/
1. Pinterest (2023). State of Arizona. Last viewed December 11, 2023. Available at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/579697783266039719/
2. iStock Photo (2023). Scale and Gavel. Last viewed December 11, 2023. Available at: https://www.istockphoto.com/photos/scales-of-justice
3. Canva (2023). Arizona Substance Use Recovery by County. Last viewed December 13, 2023. Available at: https://www.canva.com/design/DAF24mc2gqE/fyGrl1jJL672ITqBIdMmlw/view?utm_content=DAF24mc2gqE&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link&utm_source=editor