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After multiple overdoses on south side, TPD touts treatment policies

Posted at 11:50 AM, Nov 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-02 21:31:18-04


Tucson Police say quick-thinking officers helped save six people from death Thursday. They were overdosing on drugs but police had antidotes ready to use.

TPD is also working to save lives from drugs by treating drug users as people who need medical help, not time behind bars.

Police think the drugs contained fentanyl or a similar powerful opioid.
Someone flagged down an officer near Park and Ajo and said they were trying to get a 20-year-old man to a hospital.
Police suspected a drug overdose.  Then they learned he was not the only one drugs were pushing towards death.

Officers came to a house on the south side of Tucson and found six people in the midst of opioid overdoses but what those officers had with them gave those victims a chance.
The officers gave the group naloxone. It can counteract the opioids.  All TPD officers carry it because when an overdose hits, there's no time to wait for paramedics. Civilians can buy naloxone over the counter and keep doses handy.
The treatment was quick. But not quick enough to save everyone in the house.

“I'm deeply saddened to report that the 19-year-old male Aaron Francisco Chavez did not survive,” said, Tucson Police Chief Christopher Magnus.

Chief Magnus says locking up a drug user does nothing to cure the sickness of drug abuse.  Users get out and go back to break-ins.

"They do this in order to get anything they can sell or pawn for quick cash and then they use the cash to buy the drugs that they're addicted to."
Now the chief says there's no slack for dealers, but instead of arrests for simple drug users, TPD officers can deflect them into treatment programs. Users can also turn themselves in at any Tucson Police station.
Zach Stout thought he had lost his future to the opioids that hooked him in high school.
But he broke the cycle of addiction, earned honors at University of Arizona and went to work helping others beat drugs.

"And once you do receive the treatment, you can actually proceed through life every day without needing a substance to do anything. And it's it's liberating."


LEARN MORE: The Arizona Department of Health offers extensive information on opioid addiction and treatment.