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Mon, Aug. 19

Kingman’s geographic location has its people exposed to the main opioid distribution routes

Bre Guzman from Northern Arizona University Civic Service Institute and Senior Corps program assistant Candy Martinez are shown after a presentation of Rx Matters, an opioid addiction presentation for older adults. (Courtesy photo)

Bre Guzman from Northern Arizona University Civic Service Institute and Senior Corps program assistant Candy Martinez are shown after a presentation of Rx Matters, an opioid addiction presentation for older adults. (Courtesy photo)

KINGMAN – Arizona has one of the highest drug overdose mortality rates in the United States, and Mohave County has the highest numbers of death from opioid-related overdose in Arizona, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Kingman, being a transportation hub, is exposed to main distribution routes in the United States. Many local agencies on every level of government try to work together to educate the local community on both facets of the opioid crises – illegal and legally prescribed drugs.

Brooke Collins of Mohave County Health Department told the Associated Press the county has seen 789 confirmed opioid overdoses from June 2017 to the beginning of May 2019.

While deaths from overdose hits people ages 45-60, “a lot of those drugs are prescribed to seniors,” said Bre Guzman, responsible for opioid education for Northern Arizona University Civic Service Institute, who travels around Arizona delivering presentations on prescription drugs. She just visited Kingman to educate Senior Corps volunteers about how to use and store their medication properly.

Many older adults are taking multiple medications, sometimes prescribed by more than one physician and filled at more than one pharmacy. Keeping track of your medication is essential, as well as asking the doctor why a medication was prescribed, its purpose, and its name and side effects.

“We do different things throughout the year,” said Mohave County Senior Corps Program Coordinator Heather Brassil. “Some are open to a specific group of volunteers, others to the public.”

For example, a group of volunteers who participate in a foster grandparents program was given an additional “back to school” presentation on how the opioid crisis affects the youth.

AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs, made up of three primary programs. Area Agency on Aging’s AmeriCorps programs address healthy futures for seniors, helping individuals remain living at home as long as possible with support and dignity. The agency plays a crucial role in spreading opioid crisis education across communities.

“It is never too early to start talking to kids about drugs,” Guzman said. “This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to this subject. Even a 5-year old is big enough for basic information.”

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Kingman, being on Interstate 40, is on the path of a primary heroin transportation route.

An opioid addition can happen unintentionally and can have severe consequences. More people die each year from prescription drug overdoses than from car accidents, the National Safety Council said.

If someone you love uses opioids, you should learn about Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan. Naloxone can save the life of a person experiencing an overdose, restoring breathing and heart rate.

Many opioid crisis resources are available online. Visit www.azhidta.org for the biggest collection of educational resources.

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