Mixed reaction to Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Mixed reaction to Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act

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TUCSON - Those on the front lines of the battle against drug addiction in Southern Arizona are reacting to the recently-signed Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act.

Governor Doug Ducey signed the bill into law Friday. It calls for wider distribution of the overdose-reversal drug, Narcan, for public health and law enforcement officials. It also aims to increase drug treatment statewide by providing $10 million to Arizonans who need rehab but do not have insurance.

Steve Lee is the Director of Addiction Services at CODAC Health, Recovery and Wellness. He believes the act is the right move.

“It provides treatment for people that couldn't afford it,” he said. “So this is great news.”

One aspect of the law is drawing mixed reaction. The act limits initial pain pill prescriptions to five days for those who are considered ‘opioid naïve’. It also imposes a cap on dosages that doctors can prescribe.

Some believe this will limit access to those who truly need the medicine to deal with chronic pain. Two prominent doctor groups sent a letter to the Arizona Department of Health Services voicing their concerns.

“[There are] lots of questions, lots of fears, about ‘will I have my medications’. A lot of people might turn to the streets for cheaper versions of the drugs,” said Lee. “That would be the downside of this.”

Governor Ducey said there will be exceptions for dosage limits, including those with cancer and end-of-life care.

Addiction specialists at The Haven rehab for women say this legislation is a positive step in battling an epidemic that has killed more than 800 Arizonans since June.

“This is a disease. And it needs to be treated as such,” said Cynthia Miller-Potter of The Haven. “It's just so heartening to see that they recognize the urgency of this because people are dying every day.”

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