Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area brings awareness to fentanyl use in the Valley

Jun 22, 2022, 4:00 PM
This photo released by the Casa Grande Police Department, shows a collagen supplement bottle that c...

This photo released by the Casa Grande Police Department, shows a collagen supplement bottle that concealed approximately 500,000 fentanyl pills that were found in an SUV pulled over for speeding on Interstate 10 in Pinal County, Arix., on Monday May 23, 2022. Two women, Martha Lopez, 31, and Tania Luna Solis, 30, were arrested Monday after about 500,000 fentanyl pills were found collagen supplement bottles in an SUV pulled over for speeding on Interstate 10 in Arizona, police said.(Casa Grande Police Department via AP)

(Casa Grande Police Department via AP)

PHOENIX — KTAR’s Community Spotlight this month focus on Shelly Mowrey and the drug use prevention programs she’s developed over the past 20 years during her time at Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

While serving as Demand Reduction Coordinator in the Valley, Mowrey has acted on her passion to assist substance use prevention coalitions by providing quality programs with successful outcomes.

“The Drug Enforcement and Administration estimates that they seized 12 million pills last year alone and so Arizona is the gateway of fentanyl pills and a lot of those end up here,” Mowrey said.

“In the 20 years I’ve been doing prevention, I’ve never seen the number of kids that we’re losing between 14 and 17. It’s an alarming rise in the number of deaths.”

Mowrey said access to pills can be found through mobile apps on cell phones and in some cases, are being provided free of charge by drug providers.

“Sometimes they’ll just throw in the fentanyl pills at no charge, and the kids actually think they’re getting a prescription, but it’s not. It’s only fentanyl in those pills even though they look like a real prescription drug, they’re not,” Mowrey said.

Some sites, like TalkNowAZ, provide resources on fentanyl, counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl and naloxone, which is a lifesaving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose, Mowrey said.

As data shows fentanyl is increasingly taking the lives of those from 18 to 45, Mowrey said it’s important to know about the Good Samaritan law.

“If anyone calls 9-1-1 and reports an overdose, the police respond, the fire [department] respond, and the person will not be arrested even if that person has been using a substance themselves,” Mowrey said.

“So the Good Samaritan law protects you from arrest and prosecution if you’re calling to report an overdose — so important for kids to know.”

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Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area brings awareness to fentanyl use in the Valley