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Experts, officials join forces to beat Arizona’s heroin problem

LISTEN: Beating Arizona's heroin problem

PHOENIX — “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona” debuted to nearly 1.3 million people recently. This week, lawmakers, doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement got together to discuss future solutions.

“Despite the U.S. having only 5 percent of the world’s population, we consume 84 percent of all the Oxycodone (a prescription drug similar to heroin) in the world,” said Dr. Frank LoVecchio, a Banner Good Samaritan toxicologist.

Dr. LoVecchio discussed future strategies for Arizona’s heroin problem and was one of the stakeholders at a Hooked-Next Steps panel held at the ASU Cronkite School following the success of the documentary.

His suggestions included educating people on preventing overdoses, encouraging physicians to use the drug monitoring program, and possibly having a Good Samaritan-type law that would protect those who report heroin overdoses.

“It is not uncommon for us to have a patient just dropped in emergency department, you know, 10 feet away,” he said. “And the question becomes ‘Why didn’t you go the extra 10 feet?’ Because they’re afraid that they’re going to get arrested.”

Remember the campaign “This is your brain on drugs”? Surprise Chief of Police Michael Frazier says resources need to be put back into similar programs to get us back into the fight against drug use.

“The key factor is the demand reduction: the prevention, the education, the media… getting the word out. Because there’s not enough people we can put into jail to solve this problem,” he said.

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