PRESS RELEASE: New Opioid Recovery Program Funded by Grant from Arizona Attorney General

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — In 2017, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency and announced a strategy for law enforcement and health professionals across the country to combat the opioid crisis, with an emphasis on improving access to prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

This year, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has been awarded a grant from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for Local and Tribal Government Opioid Abatement in the amount of $2.5 million. At the August 9 Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board took swift action to authorize the addition of the grant funds to the CCSO budget. With these funds, CCSO now commence a collaborative partnership with the Jail District and Coconino County Health and Human Services to provide a new service and support-oriented diversion program focusing on assisting those recovering from opioid addiction in their recovery and re-entry into the community.

“I believe this is a great opportunity for our incarcerated residents and to help them get a path back to our community and be successful residents here in Coconino County. I know this is because of our previously successful programs that we’ve been trusted with this grant,” said Chair of the Board Patrice Horstman.

The Pathways to Community Program is an incredible program designed to make a concrete investment and make a lasting impact in the lives of people affected by the opioid crisis. Access to substance abuse and opioid education, mental health services, education, employment, housing, transportation, social services, and health care are all key to decreasing incarceration and recidivism. Diversion programs, such as Pathways to Community, can break the cycle of violence, substance abuse, and criminal activity that can impact generations.

““The connection between improving public health, which Coconino County Health and Human Services focuses on, and improving public safety, which we focus on, is clear. We’re fortunate to have this collaboration with our County Health and Human Services Department. I think we all share the same goal of reducing recidivism and getting people the help they need, and we hope that Pathways will meet many of these needs.” said Sheriff Jim Driscoll.

The program provides an in-custody assessment for inmates as they enter the detention facility to identify needs and resources available to assist in a successful transition back into the community when they are released. Directly upon release from custody, individuals are provided the opportunity to connect with available resources based on the needs identified from the initial assessment.

“Even though the Board just approved this grant, our staff has already been in action taking assessments since the beginning of August,” added Coconino County Health and Human Services Director Kim Musselman. “They’ve been in the jail, working with detention staff, working through all of the logistics to implement Pathways immediately.”

Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during the 12-month period between May 2020 and April 2021, over 100,000 people died due to a drug overdose. Among these, approximately 75,000 deaths were due to opioids, and predominantly synthetic opioids like fentanyl.