Prescription opioid, heroin awareness week kicks off Sunday

Published: Sep. 19, 2016 at 12:48 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:16 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - President Barack Obama has announced September 18-24 as Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.

According to his proclamation, he wants Americans to remember those who've lost their lives to it, support people in recovery, and recognize the importance of raising awareness about the problem.

The federal government reports more Americans die from drug overdoses than car crashes each year and with heroin, those numbers continue to rise.

Southern Arizona is no exception.

Pima County Medical Examiner Dr. Gregory Hess said there were a record number of overdose deaths in Pima County in 2015.

Leaders with CODAC, a local behavioral health organization, reported seeing a record amount of people seeking help for heroin and prescription pain medication addiction.

Brendan Bond is a former heroin user.

The 27-year-old has been clean for two years thanks to CODAC's help.

He's now a CODAC employee helping addicts in recovery.

Bond said he started abusing prescription pain medication like oxycontin and percocet in high school to "fit in."

Once he graduated, he made the switch.

"I went to heroin because it's cheaper, so you get more for your money," said Bond. "The with drawls and stuff, I couldn't stop really. Once I got into it, it was too late."

He has been clean two years now and wants to share his story to bring awareness to the problem.

"Heroin is real. It touches everybody," he said. "Right now, I guarantee everybody knows somebody who's going through it, whether it's in secret or the light.  Hopefully, me sharing my story helps someone else.  Without help, it's nearly impossible. Until I asked for help, I was hopeless. I couldn't see the light."

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Anyone who needs help or wants information can call the center at 1-800-222-1222.

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