Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $916,986)
Gila County is a small and rural county in Arizona with about 54,000 people. Mental health problems, homelessness, and drug-overdose levels are on the rise in Gila County. The death rate due to drug overdoses is approximately 49.9 per 100,000 population, which is the highest rate in the state. Fentanyl and fentanyl-combination overdoses are rising, with the drug’s apparent increasing accessibility. Education regarding opioid use is lacking, primarily because the stigma placed on opioid users is still very prevalent in this community. Gila County Health and Emergency Management (GCHEM) seeks to provide more education about Naloxone and the opioid epidemic to Gila County residents and decrease the number of overdoses in the county. With increasing the education levels about the dangers of illicit drug use to the community’s youth, the importance of taking the correct dosages and medications to the elderly population, and working with all members of the community to increase Naloxone distribution levels, the number of drug induced deaths will decrease. GCHEM seeks to work in partnership with the Gila County Probation Office, Gila County schools, senior centers, treatment centers, and community stakeholders to increase the awareness of the ongoing opioid epidemic within their own community, protect the vulnerable populations in Gila County like the elderly and the youths, and work together to change Gila County for the better.