The Arizona Republic

Don’t forget Arizona’s other serious epidemic: Opioid addiction

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Drug and alcohol counselors like me know this is a dangerous time. Arizonans already wrestling with addiction now face the strain of COVID-19 social isolation or may worry about job security.

It’s a recipe for relapse — and authoritie­s across the country are reporting a surge in substance misuse and overdoses.

That’s why it’s critical Arizona policymake­rs remember our state’s other epidemic: opioids.

One of the best ways to combat addiction is to stop it before it starts. That means preventing many of the unnecessar­y painkiller prescripti­ons that later lead to dependency.

Unfortunat­ely, Medicare rules limit patients and physicians so opioids are often their only choice for pain treatment.

The NOPAIN Act is bipartisan federal legislatio­n that requires Medicare to make available a range of FDA-approved pain therapies, including non-opioid alternativ­es.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Rep. Tom O’Halleran are among members of Arizona’s

delegation co-sponsoring this legislatio­n. We urge Sen. Martha McSally to join them and support the NOPAIN Act to help us stem the tide of opioid misuse in Arizona and nationally. Yvonne Fortier, Tucson

The writer is president of the Arizona Associatio­n of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors.

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