By Angie Geren

January 11th proved to be our most successful Addiction and Recovery Advocacy Day. Over 67 people met with their representatives and 35 confirmed meetings with individual legislators, Advocates, Senators, Representatives were scheduled. Discussions included Public Health Focused Addiction policy, what this would look like for Arizona and how it can help combat the opioid crisis in which we are currently entrenched.

Arizona is in a prime year for addiction and recovery advocacy as Governor Ducey declared a Public Health Emergency in June 2017 and his office and Department of Health Services have been working on recommendations that culminated into the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act which was passed and signed into law, January 26, 2018. Arizona is the 41st state to have a Good Samaritan 911 law protecting people who call 911 for a drug overdose from being arrested, $10 million of that funding will be in the newly created Substance Use Disorder fund — used for those who are underinsured/uninsured, new prescribing guidelines, prevention education funds, and mandated medical professional education. Arizona seems poised to be on front lines of fighting this epidemic however there is so much more work to do. The provisions in the passed Act rely heavily on preventing on opioid addiction which is just a small piece of the puzzle.

What is Public Health Focused Addiction Policy?

  • Policy focusing on treating addiction instead of incarcerating;
  • Looks at the whole picture instead of individual symptoms;
  • Reduces stigma, thereby increasing the likelihood of people seeking treatment;
  • Protects the safety of people by seeing them as patients in need of assistance.
  • What can Arizona do if they truly wanted to have a robust policy that adequately treats addiction thru the health system instead of the criminal justice system?
  • Pass HB2389 which would allow syringe access programs to operate;
  • Pass Sober Living Home Regulations and Pass a Ban on Patient Brokering;
  • Reject HB2241 which would create mandatory minimum prison sentences for heroin sales;
  • Continue to work with individuals and organizations focused on recovery to find innovative solutions and provide quality care;

We need your voice to join us. We are the ones who are most affected and have the story to help educate our legislators on what addiction really is and that recovery is possible. I encourage you to stay updated on the progress of these bills at