Arizona has seen an alarming rise of fentanyl and counterfeit pill deaths; in 2021, 96% of opioid deaths involved prescription or synthetic drugs. Naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, has been proven to counteract the effects of these drugs and save lives.
AHCCCS used problem-solving techniques to identify an immediate need to increase naloxone distribution and build public awareness about its efficacy.
The Substance Abuse Coalition Leaders of Arizona, composed of substance abuse prevention coalitions statewide, created a toolkit and a statewide media campaign to increase public awareness of the availability of naloxone. The campaign coupled forums, presentations, training, and prevention programming events to leverage naloxone distribution in Arizona communities.
AHCCCS funded two major naloxone distribution projects through Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and Sonoran Prevention Works (SPW). ADHS mainly focused on distribution through law enforcement agencies, county health departments, emergency departments and community-based organizations. SPW focused on distribution to active users.
In federal fiscal year 2022, 163,470 doses of naloxone were distributed through State Opioid Response Grants and the Substance Abuse Block Grant. The increase is directly attributable to the increased community-based distribution efforts. .A recent campaign funded through Substance Abuse Block Grant supplemental funds aimed to raise awareness about the availability of harm reduction tools such as naloxone and fentanyl test strips, and to reduce stigma related to these efforts.
The campaign drove significant traffic to the campaign website www.usesaferaz.com and related resources. SPW reported an increase in referral traffic of 16.53% and a 151.4% increase in website traffic to NaloxoneAZ.com between report years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. Additionally, Southwest Recovery Alliance reported an uptick in the distribution of harm reduction supplies, including naloxone distribution to people who do not use drugs, which indicates increased awareness and interest of naloxone among community members.