Archive for the ‘Behavioral Health’ category

Tackling Prescription Drug Abuse with “Awareness. Action. Outcomes!”

May 20th, 2015

painkillersArizona, like every state in the country, is battling an epidemic of people misusing and abusing prescription drugs.  We’ve been working with several partners on the Arizona Prescription Drug Misuse & Abuse Initiative since 2012 to reduce the problem in Arizona.

The Initiative team  recently developed a comprehensive toolkit designed to assist communities to tackle prescription drug abuse at the local level.  The Community Toolkit provides easy to use materials and guidance on implementing five major strategies of the Arizona Prescription Drug Misuse & Abuse Initiative with the theme of “Awareness. Action. Outcomes!”

We will host a free training session on the Community Toolkit next month  in Phoenix.  To attend, please register by June 11. Communities and interested groups can access the toolkits online or request a hard copy by contacting Danielle Dandreaux at 602-364-3321.

Last November we released the Arizona Opioid Prescribing Guidelines, developed with the help of health care partners across the state interested in promoting responsible, appropriate prescribing practices to reduce the misuse of opioid pain relievers.  To help clinicians incorporate these guidelines into practice, the University of Arizona is providing a free online training programSafe and Effective Opioid Prescribing While Managing Acute and Chronic Pain.  The program offers two free CME credits to prescribers.

The training is supported by a grant through the Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families and was developed in partnership with the Arizona Prescription Drug Misuse & Abuse Initiative, Arizona Department of Health Services, University of Arizona College of Public Health and University of Arizona College of Medicine. 

We encourage any clinician who prescribes opioids to take advantage of this opportunity to become more familiar with Arizona’s current guidelines for opioid prescribing, as well as learn more about non-opioid strategies for pain management.​

Grant Funding Helps Homeless Across Arizona

April 30th, 2015

iStock_000041434018_blogAt the end of March, the men’s overflow shelter closed in downtown Phoenix.  The shelter housed up to 350 homeless men at full capacity. The city condemned the building for asbestos.

We’re one of many community partners responding to the housing needs of vulnerable people in Arizona.  Our permanent supportive housing program will provide an additional 425 housing units this year to people with serious mental illness.  We also have two grants which fund homeless outreach.

Project for Assistance in Transition for Homelessness (PATH) is a grant Arizona receives every year.  Our current target area is Maricopa, Pima, Cochise, Coconino, and Yavapai Counties.  The PATH grant’s goal is to reduce or eliminate homelessness for people with serious mental illness or co-occurring serious mental illness and substance use disorder who are homelessness or are at imminent risk of becoming homelessness.  PATH grant funds provide a menu of allowable services, including street outreach, case management, and services which are not supported by mainstream mental health programs.

The Cooperative Agreement to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI) is a three-year grant currently targeted in Coconino and Yavapai Counties.  The goal is to enhance or develop state infrastructure and systems to increase accessible, effective, comprehensive, coordinated/integrated and evidence-based treatment services; the grant also expects to increase permanent supportive housing.  The target population is people who experience chronic homelessness with substance use disorders or co-occurring substance use and mental disorders.

You can learn more about the grants on our website.

Take Time in April to Learn about Alcohol

April 3rd, 2015

13867smYou may have a drink each night when you get home from work.  Or maybe you just drink on the weekends.  Over time, you find yourself drinking more and looking forward to drinking alcohol.

Didn’t that research say wine was good for you?

Not so fast.

You may be dependent, like some 17 million Americans — leading to 88,000 alcohol related deaths annually.  Drinking and driving is responsible for many of those deaths – but what about the chronic diseases caused by long-term alcohol use?

Did you know excessive alcohol use from heavy drinking or binge drinking can cause:

  • Dementia and stroke
  • Cardiovascular problems including heart attacks, and high blood pressure
  • Psychiatric problems including depression, anxiety, and suicide
  • Social problems including unemployment, lost productivity, family problems, and violence
  • Unintentional injuries such as motor-vehicle traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns, and firearm injuries
  • Increased risk for many kinds of cancers
  • Liver diseases including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis
  • Gastrointestinal problems including pancreatitis and gastritis
  • Alcohol abuse or dependence – alcoholism.

Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in America.  In 2013, almost 100 people died because of alcohol in Arizona – that’s more than colon, breast or prostate cancer.  If you are curious about your use of alcohol, the National Institutes of Health have an online tool to help you evaluate it.

The good news is there are substance abuse programs that work.

Do you need help?  Learn more about ADHS’s substance abuse prevention work here – including how to access local services.

Crisis hotline for those impacted by today’s shootings

March 18th, 2015


MMIC only  webMercy Maricopa Integrated Care established a special hotline 1-800-203-CARE (2273) for the public after two unconnected shootings in the Valley.  People can also visit for resources. The Crisis Response System in Maricopa County is built to provide care to anyone whether they are in the public behavioral health system.  People who are emotionally affected and need help are encouraged to reach out.

Additionally, two mobile crisis teams were sent to the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) where one of the shootings happened to meet with students. Crisis staff will continue to work with leaders at EVIT to meet the trauma needs of students and faculty.  Behavioral health providers will also be receiving a detailed crisis response plan for members.

Mercy Maricopa took over the behavioral health system in Maricopa County almost one year ago.  Since then it has worked to ensure clients have both mental health and acute care health care when they need it.

Suicide Prevention Mobile App Launches Today

March 11th, 2015

Suicide Safe newThe Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a mobile app this morning to help primary care and behavioral health providers identify suicide risk among patients. Suicide Safe is available for Apple and Android phones and tablets.

A webinar explaining the technology will happen at 12:30 today. The event is full at this point, but a video will be available on SAMHSA’s YouTube channel.

Suicide Safe was created using the best practice Suicide Assessment Five-Step Evaluation and Triage (SAFE-T) card. The five steps include: identify risk factors, identify protective factors, conduct suicide inquiry, determine risk level/intervention, document. This pocket card for clinicians has long been used; the app allows clinicians to simply pull out their phones or tablets rather than trying to find the printed card when concerned about suicidal ideations.

Alcohol Treatment & Interventions in Arizona

January 23rd, 2015

WSubstance abuse causes a host of bad public health outcomes including unintentional injuries, accidents, risk of domestic violence, medical problems, and even death…and alcohol abuse is at the top of the list.  Drinking too much increases your chances of being injured or even killed.  Alcohol is a factor in about 60% of homicides, 50% of severe trauma injuries, and 40% of car crashes and suicides.  Clearly, alcohol abuse prevention is key to improving public health outcomes in Arizona.

Last year alcohol remained the most common substance used by those in treatment for substance abuse in Arizona.  Thirty-one percent (31%) of folks that receive substance abuse services through our behavioral health programs sought help for alcohol dependence or abuse.

For most people, a combination of medication and behavioral therapy is most successful.  Medication Assisted Treatment is an approach that includes drug intervention as part of a comprehensive substance abuse treatment plan.  Additional behavioral therapies include peer and family support groups, outpatient counseling, or residential treatment.

Arizona’s substance abuse treatment services are funded through a variety of sources including private insurance, Medicaid, grants as well as state dollars.  ADHS spent about $128M in service funding for substance abuse treatment and prevention last year via Medicaid and a number of federal grants including the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block grant, Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness grant, Screening, Brief, Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) grant, and the State Youth Treatment Grant, Prevention Framework Partnership for Success grant.

Our 2015 substance abuse prevention and treatment program goals include: 1) Using SBIRT in emergency rooms and with primary care physicians in Northern Arizona; 2) Increasing the use of evidenced-based practices in substance abuse prevention and treatment; 3) Improving the network of substance abuse prevention services providers; 4) Continuing to expand the availability and use of medically-assisted treatment options using federal grant funds; 5) Implementing interventions in the Arizona Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Initiative; and 6) Continuing to integrate peer and family support services and self-help participation.

In 2015 we’ll also be implementing a statewide media campaign targeted at reducing underage drinking.  The campaign will be designed to increase awareness around the dangers of alcohol use as well as to provide statistics and relevant laws.

Alcohol Poisoning in Arizona

January 22nd, 2015

alcoholpoisoningExcessive alcohol use is the 4th leading preventable cause of death in the US.  In fact, excessive drinking causes about 10% of deaths among 20–64 year olds…with binge drinking responsible for about half of that 10%.  Nationally, alcohol is a factor in about 60% of homicides, 50% of severe trauma injuries, and 40% of car crashes and suicides.  Yet, about 13% of Arizonans (780,000 adults) said that they binge drink in our 2013 survey.  Interestingly, only about 10% of binge drinkers are alcohol dependent.

A report published by the CDC this month found that there were 2,221 alcohol poisoning deaths in the US in 2012.  Keep in mind that alcohol poisoning deaths are just a small subset of alcohol attributable deaths.  Most of the deaths (1,681 or 76%) were among 35–64 year olds (mostly men).  The highest death rate from alcohol poisoning was among men aged 45–54 years old.  Surprisingly (at least for me), only 2% were under 21.

Recently we took a deeper dive into the Arizona data.  We found that about 2.5% of all emergency room visits and 4.5% of inpatient hospitalizations (4,500/100,000) were related to excess alcohol use in 2013.  Emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths were most common in the 45-54 male age group.  Interestingly, we found that unmarried men 45-54 years old were at the highest risk for all categories.  In fact, unmarried men represented more than 30,000 of the approximately 40,000 emergency department visits for causes related to alcohol in 2013.

Being married decreased the odds of an ER visit for alcohol by 40% after adjusting for age, gender, race and ethnicity, and insurance status (as a proxy for income).  Odds for an alcohol related ER visit was highest among American Indian population (7 times) compared to other race and ethnicities.

Tribal Legislative Day to Focus on Suicide Prevention

January 21st, 2015

navajonationSince 1995, the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs, in cooperation with representatives from the state’s Indian nations, hosts an Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day. This year’s event will focus on the health and wellness of native youth and will take place Tuesday, January 20th on the Capitol lawn in Phoenix.

This year’s program will include a panel discussion on suicide prevention among American Indian teens.  The conversation is being organized by ADHS and will include panelists from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, the Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center and more.

We’ll be encouraging attendees to discuss the impact of suicide on their reservations and dialog about culturally competent solutions.  For more information visit:

Intervention Snapshot: SBIRT

January 20th, 2015

SONY DSCThrough our Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) grant, folks are given a brief assessment which inquires as to individual’s substance use in primary care and emergency room settings.  People who screen positive (or who are self-referred) are able to access an array of treatment services.  In general, services can be grouped into seven categories: Crisis, Support, Inpatient, Outpatient, Medical/Pharmacy, Residential and Rehabilitation.

Outcomes have shown a reduction in alcohol use, improvement in quality-of-life measures (like employment), housing stability, lower arrest rates, and a reduction in risky behaviors, including fewer unprotected sexual encounters.

Statewide Heroin Broadcast This Week

January 12th, 2015

hooked2015Every broadcast TV station and most radio outlets across Arizona will air simultaneously a 30-minute commercial-free investigative report produced by ASU student journalists on the growing perils of heroin and opioid use on Tuesday, January 13, at 6:30 pm.  You may remember a similar broadcast a few years ago about methamphetamine use.  That broadcast did a great job raising the awareness of that public health issue – let’s hope this heroin broadcast does the same.

Follow the conversation on Twitter with #HookedAZ