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AZDHS launches campaign to raise naloxone awareness to prevent opioid overdoses

The state health department is launching a  new campaign this week to bring more awareness to naloxone. That’s the treatment administered at the onset of an opioid overdose to counteract the drug’s effect.

The health department’s new multimedia campaign features healthcare providers and experts, and people impacted by opioid addictions talking about the benefits of naloxone, also known as Narcan. The new page also includes links where community groups and NGOs can apply to get naloxone kits free of charge. The health department is already doing distribution for first responders including fire department and law enforcement agencies. 

Teresa Aseret-Manygoats, bureau chief for the Arizona Department of Health Services' Bureau of Chronic Disease and Health Promotion, says it’s a lifesaving drug. 

"And we know that naloxone rapidly reverses opioid overdoses, and it’s a safe medication that any individual who has access to naloxone can utilize," she said. 

Aseret-Manygoats says the new multimedia campaign aims to reduce the stigma of opioid addiction and treatment, and provide resources for community groups looking to get access to free naloxone kits. The department is already delivering kits to hundreds of community partners statewide. 

"Our strategy is to get naloxone out to the communities and to break stigma with the usage of naloxone for opioids and opioid-use disorder," she said. "Individuals can have and utilize naloxone, so it's really easy to use. I think that's really what our message is, is that naloxone saves lives."

The state health department is working directly with 10 of Arizona's 15 counties to deliver monthly batches of naloxone kits. The other five counties receive kits through local community groups coordinating with the state agency.  

Attorney General Kris Mayes says her office is also funding treatment and overdose prevention initiatives statewide.

"We are going to be responsible in my office for distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in opioid settlement funds that can be used for treatment of fentanyl addictions," she said.  

Arizona was awarded more than $540 million from a nationwide opioid settlement. In December, Mayes’ office announced the distribution of the first batch of naloxone purchases to some Arizona counties.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.