Sun, July 21

MATForce program explores growing heroin problem in Verde Valley

COTTONWOOD -- MATForce will present a program on the growing heroin problem in the Verde Valley Jan. 26.

A "Conversation on Heroin" will be 6-8 p.m. Jan. 26, at the Public Safety Building meeting room, 199 S. Sixth Street, Cottonwood.

"It's been really scary. It is an addiction that is on a significant rise in our county and in our county," said Marilee Fowler, Executive Director of MATForce.

Cottonwood City Manager Doug Bartosh is co-chair of MATForce. "We put together a strategic plan recently and one of the ideas was to have a community conversation. We want to invite the community, the entire Verde Valley, all stakeholders and show people how they can recognize signs of use of heroin, talk about options for treatment, and get feedback from the community to impact the use."

"Will will show a film on heroin, first shown on PBS; Sgt. Braxton from PANT will talk about what we are seeing in the Verde. First responders will talk about the overdoses they are seeing. It is just to educate people, but also to educate us as well, so that we can adjust our strategies to make sure they are as effective as possible."

The substance abuse coalition has been working for years to eliminate the use of harmful and illegal drugs in Yavapai County.

A recent target for MATForce has been to reduce the use of painkillers by doctors and to increase the use of an online prescription drug database to track prescriptions.

Bartosh said, "Prescription drugs are harder and harder to get and the cartels are bringing in more heroin, another opioid, from Mexico. We are seeing heroin coming into the Verde Valley when it flows out of the Phoenix Valley."

"In terms of overdose deaths, I am not sure we hear all of them, sometime they are never reported while waiting for the toxicology reports to come back, said Fowler.