Letter: Don’t forget opioids, Arizona’s other epidemic


Drug and alcohol counselors like me know this is a dangerous time. Arizonans already wrestling with addiction now face the added strain of COVID-19 social isolation or may worry about job security and being able to pay bills and other necessary expenses.

It’s a recipe for relapse – and authorities in Arizona and nationwide are reporting a surge in substance misuse and overdoses.

That’s why it’s critical that Arizona policymakers remember our state’s other epidemic: opioids. One of the best ways to combat drug addiction is to stop it before it starts. When it comes to opioids, that means preventing many of the unnecessary painkiller prescriptions that later lead to dependency. Unfortunately, antiquated Medicare rules limit patients and physicians so opioids are often their only choice for pain treatment.

The NOPAIN Act is bipartisan-supported federal legislation that will require Medicare to make available a wide range of FDA-approved pain therapies, including many of the non-opioid alternatives already on the market.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Rep. Tom O’Halleran are among members of Arizona’s delegation co-sponsoring this important legislation. We urge Sen. Martha McSally to join them in supporting and co-sponsoring the NOPAIN Act to help us stem the tide of opioid misuse in Arizona and nationally.

Yvonne Fortier
President, Arizona Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors