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Arizona Lawmakers Hope to Put Dent in Opioid Crisis

Gov. Doug Ducey greets Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs on Monday ahead of calling a special legislative session to enact what is billed as a bipartisan approach to dealing with the opioid crisis. (Capitol Media Services/Howard Fischer)

Lawmakers hope to put dent in opioid crisis

Originally Published: January 24, 2018 5:55 a.m.

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX — State lawmakers begin working today (eds: tuesday) on a bipartisan plan state officials hope will make a significant dent in opioid addiction, abuse and deaths in Arizona.

“In 2016, more than two Arizonans died each day due to an opioid overdose,’’ Dr. Cara Christ, the state’s health director, said at a ceremony where Gov. Doug Ducey signed a proclamation for a special legislative session to deal with the issue.

“Since 2012, we’ve seen an increase of 74 percent in opiod-related deaths,’’ she continued. “Drug overdoses kill more Arizonans than car accidents.’’

The proposal contains money designed to help provide treatment for those who are addicted. The state already does some of that through its Medicaid program. This package contains $10 million for those whose income leaves them unqualified for that.

But the governor said the measure also has a strong element designed to prevent addiction in the first place. That’s built around a five-day limit on how much opioids that doctors can prescribe to patients who have not been on the drug for at least 60 days.

“You’re talking about really taking advantage of the data and facts that we understand how someone gets addicted,’’ he said.

“When it goes past five days or six days, that’s when the incidence of addiction skyrocket,’’ Ducey continued. “So the objective here was not only to treat people that are suffering addiction so that they can get off it but to prevent future addictions and overdoses from happening.’’

But he said the legislation should not harm others.

“People that have chronic pain, people that are suffering from chronic pain and are already benefitting from these miracle drugs, there will be no change for them,’’ he said.

The governor called the measure “the most aggressive piece of public policy, the most thorough and thoughtful piece of public policy that’s been introduced in years.’’

Legislative Democrats are willing to go along, especially once they got that $10 million for addiction treatment. But they don’t see this as a cure all.

“It’s a thoughtful and thorough first step,’’ said Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs. “We won’t win this battle in one year.’’

State lawmakers actually already are in session. And there is no legal reason why the pieces of the proposal cannot be added to the regular legislative agenda.

But by calling a concurrent special session, Ducey sets the stage to go from proposal to finished law in three days.

“This is not being rushed through at all,’’ the governor told reporters after the ceremony. He said the measure has been in the works since September, with input from members of the medical community, law enforcement, addiction experts.

“And now it will be debated in the light of day in both of our chambers,’’ Ducey said.

“We needed urgency and focus on this issue, which is a crisis in our state,’’ he explained. “It called for a special session.’’

But what it also does is shorten the amount of time for people to read and scrutinize the final legislation — it was still not printed as of Monday afternoon — and be able to seek changes.

There are some potential flash points.

For example, the proclamation for the session says there will be new enforcement procedures to go after doctors who overprescribe not just opioids but other similar drugs. That could raise questions from doctors who specialize in pain management.

Ducey also wants to allow the state to charge companies that manufacture opioids as well as their executives with felonies for misrepresenting the effectiveness and addictive nature of their wares.

And the governor proposes to require insurance companies to expedite authorization for certain kinds of treatments. That is based on concerns that while patients are awaiting the go-ahead from insurers for surgery they end up being given opioids for the pain, increasing the possibility of addiction.

Other provisions include a “Good Samaritan’’ provision, allowing someone who is using drugs to call for help when a companion needs medical attention without putting himself or herself at risk of arrest.

The governor did part ways with his health director on one particular issue.

In briefing reporters last week, Christ said there is no simple answer to alternatives to highly addictive opioids when treating pain. But she said the list of options could include medical marijuana which is legal in Arizona.

Original Source: https://www.pvtrib.com/news/2018/jan/24/lawmakers-hope-put-dent-opioid-crisis/

 

ARIZONA’S OPIOID EPIDEMIC-The Tragic 2017 Numbers

Over 700 Arizonans Died In Suspected Opioid-Related Deaths in 2017

 
Published: Monday, January 1, 2018 – 2:42pm
Updated: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 – 7:14am

More than 700 people in Arizona are believed to have died from opioid-related overdoses in 2017, according to end-of-the-year numbers from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

2017 was the first time state health officials began tracking opioid overdose data in real time. The initial results reveal that there were nearly 5,000 suspected opioid-related overdoses since mid-June. About 15 percent were fatal.

The majority of overdoses were clustered around the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas. Most of them happened inside a personal residence, not a health-care facility or public place. Over the past six months, the number of overdoses reported weekly has ranged from 100 to more than 250. The state aims to reduce the number of overdose deaths by 25 percent in the next five years.

Lawmakers are expected to take up legislation this year in response to the opioid epidemic, which Gov. Doug Ducey has declared a public health emergency.

Source: https://kjzz.org/

ViVRE is committed to helping end this epidemic in 2018, and beyond!

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Teams from All 50 States Examine Local Criminal Justice Trends at ‘Unprecedented Gathering’

By CSG Justice Center Staff

The two-day 50-State Summit on Public Safety, organized by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), occurred at a time when public safety officials and crime data are telling a complex story. While property crime rates have fallen significantly in almost every state, and the overall violent crime rate remains lower than it was a decade ago, it is no longer universally declining. In fact, violent crime is increasing overall in 18 states and in many individual communities across the country. Further, the opioid epidemic has become a national crisis, and law enforcement leaders describe engaging with more people with serious mental illnesses than ever before.

“The amount of data available, and opinions about what that data means, sometimes makes you feel like you’re drinking from a fire hose. There’s no shortage of action that can be taken as a corrections leader,” said John Wetzel, Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections, who also serves as Chair of the CSG Justice Center and Vice President of ASCA. “This summit is a key opportunity to engage with colleagues across agencies and at all levels of government to understand that data and accelerate the adoption of programs that work.”

Each of the 50 state teams that attended the event on November 13–14 in Washington, DC were led by their respective state corrections administrator and included a key state legislator, a law enforcement official and a local behavioral health professional. Attendees—including 35 behavioral health directors, 15 police chiefs, 12 sheriffs, and 41 state legislators—received state-specific workbooks that highlighted data collected by CSG Justice Center staff in interviews with criminal justice professionals in all 50 states. State data included trends in crime, arrests, recidivism, correctional populations, and behavioral health in each state, as well as discussion questions to help each team think about the public safety challenges in their state and possible solutions.

“The intersection between the criminal justice system and people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders is more prominent than ever before, and local agencies are struggling to meet the demand for services for people in jail and on community supervision,” said Tracy Plouck, Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction services and Vice-Chair of the CSG Justice Center. “This reality reinforces the critical role behavioral health specialists will have in the effort to preserve public safety and get people the treatment they need.”

The summit featured discussions with leaders representing all facets of the criminal justice system from states across the country, as well as national voices, including U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, JustLeadershipUSA’s Glenn E. Martin and Darlene Hutchinson Biehl, Director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime.

State teams emerged from the summit having identified clear strategies for reducing crime and recidivism, improving outcomes for people with mental health and substance use disorders, and reducing spending on prisons and jails.

“In order to achieve lasting crime and recidivism reductions, state and local leaders will need to develop a more comprehensive and coordinated public safety strategy that sustains success to date and responds to the unique combination of new challenges in their states,” Arkansas State Representative Clarke Tucker said. “I know that for my team attending the summit, this is a great checkpoint to understand where things stand in our state, reestablish our engagement across different agencies and learn about new opportunities to improve our criminal justice system.”

Following the summit, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance will select up to 25 states to receive additional technical assistance from criminal justice experts in early 2018. Attendees were encouraged to apply for this opportunity at the summit. Additionally, the CSG Justice Center will be releasing a report in the coming months that includes a detailed analysis of the state and local data discussed at this week’s summit.

The 50-State Summit on Public Safety was made possible by funding from by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Tow Foundation.

SOURCE: www.csgjusticecenter.org