TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - States across the country have reported a rise in overdose deaths and COVID-19 has escalated the problem. A new report released Wednesday by the Bipartisan Policy Center shows Arizona’s federal funding to fight the opioid epidemic increased in fiscal year 2019 by nearly 20%.
Although Arizona received more federal money to slow down the opioid crisis, the state’s drug overdose death rate increased 14.5% in 2019.
The state has tried to provide more opportunities for people seeking help and a clinic in Tucson has noticed a difference over the years.
“There really have been a lot of advances and expansion in treatment," said Daniel Barden, the CODAC Vice President of Clinical Services.
CODAC, an organization that offers treatment for people in recovery from opioids, is available to people 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Barden said he’s seen more clinics opening in rural areas of Arizona and more of the opioid overdose reversal drug, Narcan, becoming available. Between Sept. 30, 2018 and Sept. 29, 2019, 16,924 naloxone kits were distributed in Arizona, according to the report.
Despite the improvements in fighting the crisis, clinics are now faced with the challenges of COVID-19. Many are turning to telehealth services.
The CDC Director of Division of Overdose and Prevention, Grant Baldwin, Ph.D., explained what needs to happen moving forward to help slow opioid overdose deaths in a virtual conference Wednesday.
“We aim to build more strength in partnerships between public health and public safety to identify threats and to help link people to treatment and recovery services," Grant Baldwin, Ph.D.
For treatment and recovery services to continue, the money must also continue.
“They’ve established a lot of programs but if you don’t have the increased funding that helps to be sustainable it gets really difficult," Barden said. "Grants tend to end and when the grant ends, the money ends.”
Call CODAC at (520) 202-1786 if you or someone you know is seeking help with substance use disorders or behavioral health.