Arizona Drug Summit: United for Solutions


JOSE: COMING UP NEXT ON HORIZONTE, AGENCIES COME TOGETHER TO TALK ABOUT DRUG USE AND ITS EFFECT ON COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY, WHAT KIDS AND PROFESSIONALS ARE DOING TO TAKE FOOTBALL ACROSS THE BORDER, AND A NEW REPORT SHOWS HISPANIC MIND POWER AND NEW BUSINESS GROWTH CONTINUE TO OUTPACE ARIZONA’S GENERAL MARKET. THIS ALL COMING UP NEXT ON HORIZONTE.
NARRATOR: HORIZONTE IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.
JOSE: WELCOME TO HORIZONTE. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. I’M JOSE CARDENAS. THE FIRST ARIZONA DRUG SUMMIT UNITED FOR SOLUTIONS WAS HELD TO TALK ABOUT DRUG THREAT, PREVENTION PROGRAMS, AND TREATMENT INITIATIVES. AGENCIES HEARD DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES REGARDING DRUG USE AND THE IMPACT ON SOCIETY TODAY. JOINING ME KNOW TO TALK ABOUT THIS SUMMIT IS DOUGLAS COLEMAN, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE FOR THE DRUG ENFORCEMENT PHOENIX DIVISION, AND JOHN KOCH, COMMUNITY IMPACT MANAGER FOR EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES. THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US. DOUG, TELL US THE GENESIS OF THIS DRUG SUMMIT.
COLEMAN: SO THE IDEA BEHIND IT IS THAT WE HAVE THIS GROWING DRUG PROBLEM IN THE UNITED STATES. NOT ONLY WITH OPIOIDS, THAT EVERYBODY’S FAMILIAR WITH. WE HAVE 72 THOUSAND AMERICANS EVERY YEAR DYING FROM DRUG OVERDOSE. THAT’S ABOUT 200 A DAY. SO, THE IDEA BEHIND THIS WAS TO PUT ALL OF US TOGETHER: LAW ENFORCEMENT, TREATMENT PROFESSIONALS, MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS, PREVENTIONS FOLKS. PUT US ALL TOGETHER SO THAT WE CAN ALL TALK. WE ALL HAVE A PIECE OF THIS PIE, WE ALL HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO TRY HELP SOLVE THIS PROBLEM FOR AMERICA AND I THINK THAT PUTTING US ALL IN A ROOM PUTS US OUT OF THOSE SILOS THAT WE SOMETIMES GET INTO. WERE LAW ENFORCEMENT IS LOOKING AT THEIR ISSUES ONLY, PREVENTION IS LOOKING AT THEIR ISSUES ONLY AND TREATMENT IS LOOKING AT THEIR ISSUES. WE ALL KNOW THAT YOU HAVE TO HAVE ALL THREE OF THOSE PILLARS TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL ANTI-DRUG PROGRAM AND SO I THINK THAT WAS AN IMPORTANT PART TO PUT US ALL TOGETHER IN THE SAME ROOM AND TALK THROUGH THESE ISSUES AND GET A LITTLE BIT OF COMRADERY TOGETHER.
JOSE: SO HOW WOULD THIS DIFFER THOUGH FROM THE NORMAL INTERACTION BECAUSE I ASSUME THE DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES WOULD HAVE INTERACTION WITH ABUSE PREVENTION AND SO ON IN THE NORMAL COURSE OF BUSINESS.
COLEMAN: WE DO BUT I THINK THAT WE STILL GET CAUGHT UP IN THOSE SILOS THAT WE ALL HAVE. OUR INTERACTION WITH THE PREVENTION AND THE TREATMENT FOLKS IS MINIMAL AND THEIR INTERACTION WITH US IS MINIMAL. WE DO HAVE PROFESSIONAL INTERACTIONS BUT I THINK THAT PUTTING US ALL IN THE SAME ROOM FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS AND TALKING ABOUT THIS GIVES ALL OF USE THE NEED TO LOOK AT THE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES. TO GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER A LITTLE BIT BETTER ABOUT WHY WE DO THE THINGS THAT WE DO, WHY PREVENTION DOES THE KINDS THAT THEY DO, WE TREATMENT DOES THE THINGS THAT THEY DO.
JOSE: SO I WANT TO COME BACK AND TALK ABOUT HOW IT WAS ORGANIZED BUT BEFORE WE DO THAT, JOHN YOU KIND OF SEE THIS FROM SEVERAL DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES. YOUR OWN PERSONAL STORY WAS FEATURED IN A FILM THAT WAS SHOWN. TELL US ABOUT THAT.
KOCH: THEY PLAYED A FILM OF MYSELF AND MY FAMILY. I AM A PERSON IN LONG TERM RECOVERY FROM OPIOID USE DISORDER MYSELF. YOU KNOW, SITTING UP HERE YOU WOULDN’T GUESS THAT I’M SOMEBODY THAT’S BEEN INCARCERATED OVER TWENTY TIMES AND LOST ALMOST EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE TO ALMOST TEN YEARS OF HEROIN ABUSE. BUT NOW, TODAY, I GET TO BE FREE AND, YOU KNOW, HELP BREAK THE STIGMA THAT THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ARE EXPERIENCING RIGHT NOW.
JOSE: AND YOU’RE WORKING IN THIS FIELD TO HELP OTHERS?
KOCH: YES SIR.
JOSE: TELL US ABOUT THAT.
KOCH: SO I WORK FOR A COMPANY CALLED COMMUNITY MEDICAL SERVICES AND I’M THE COMMUNITY IMPACT MANAGER AND WHAT THAT MEANS IS I GET TO GO OUT INTO THE COMMUNITY AND SPEAK WITH DIFFERENT NEIGHBORS AND COMMUNITY PARTNERS AND WORK TO HELP SET UP ARRANGEMENTS FOR PEOPLE SO THAT THEY CAN GET THE HELP THEY NEED IN ALL DIFFERENT AREAS.
JOSE: SO DOUG, JOHN’S STORY I GUESS IS PROVIDES SOME HOPE THAT THERE IS SOMETHING THAT CAN BE DONE BUT THE OVERWHELMING SENSE IF YOU READ THE PAPER OR YOU SEE THE NEWS IS THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM AND IT IS ONLY GETTING WORSE.
COLEMAN: AND I THINK THAT’S ACCURATE. I MEAN WE TALK ABOUT THE OPIOID ADDICTION PROBLEM. WE HAVE ROUGHLY 50 THOUSAND AMERICANS AND ABOUT A THOUSAND ARIZONIANS THAT DIED FROM OPIOID OVERDOSES LAST YEAR. THAT’S THREE PEOPLE A DAY IN ARIZONA AND OVER 120 OR 130 OR SO EVERYDAY IN THE UNITED STATES. SO THE PROBLEM IS BIG AND IT IS GETTING BIGGER. AND I THINK THAT AS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS AND AS TREATMENT AND PREVENTION FOLKS THE WAY WE HAVE TO ATTACK THIS IS THAT EVERYTHING THAT WE DO CAN SAVE A LIFE AT A TIME. RIGHT? WE CAN’T SAVE EVERYBODY. BUT WE ARE TRYING TO SAVE ONE LIFE AT A TIME AND I THINK THAT’S HOW OUR EFFORTS AND WORKING TOGETHER WE CAN BE MOST EFFECTIVE.
JOSE: AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I NOTICED FROM SOME OF THE MATERIALS THAT WE REVIEWED IN ADVANCE IS THAT WHILE OPIOIDS IS A BIG PROBLEM HERE IN ARIZONA, AS YOU JUST MENTIONED, WE HAVE AN EVEN BIGGER PROBLEM WITH METHAMPHETAMINE.
COLEMAN: YEAH. WE SEE ABOUT TEN TIMES AS MUCH METHAMPHETAMINE IN ARIZONA AS WE DO OPIOIDS. AND ALL THOUGH THE OPIOIDS ARE REALLY THE BIG ISSUE THAT WE HAVE BECAUSE OF THE AMOUNT OF OVERDOSE DEATHS AND THE INCREASING AMOUNT OF PETIOLE THAT’S COMING ACROSS THE BORDER-THAT SUPER POWERFUL SYNTHETIC OPIOID. IT STILL IS, PART OF THE SUMMIT WAS HEY, LET’S NOT FORGET THAT WE HAVE OTHER DRUG ISSUES HERE. WE STILL LOSE 400 ARIZONIANS EVERY YEAR TO METHAMPHETAMINE OVERDOSES AS WELL. AND THE INTERESTING THING WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THE OVERDOSED IS, REMEMBER, THOSE 72 THOUSAND AMERICANS, THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT DIED FROM OVERDOSES. ONLY 15 PERCENT OF OVERDOSE INCIDENCE RESULT IN A DEATH. MOST OF THE TIME FIRST RESPONDERS WILL GET THERE OR SOMEBODY WILL GET THERE AND TAKE CARE OF THE PERSON, GET THEM TO THE HOSPITAL. SO 85 PERCENT OF THEM DON’T RESULT IN DEATH SO THINK ABOUT THE SHEER NUMBER OF OVERDOSE INCIDENCE THAT WE HAVE IN THE UNITED STATES EVERY YEAR.
JOSE: SO JOHN, WE TALKED ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE DIRECTLY AFFECTED, BUT YOU ALSO SEE IN THE NEWS AND IN THE PAPER THAT COMMUNITIES ARE EFFECTED, FAMILIES ARE EFFECTED, THAT THE CHILDREN OF PEOPLE THAT HAVE THESE ISSUES. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE ALSO DEALT WITH AND THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION ADDRESSES?
KOCH: YEAH. I MEAN I’VE DEALT WITH IT IN MY PERSONAL LIFE AND THEN OUR ORGANIZATION WORKS TO HELP EVERYBODY BECAUSE THESE ARE PEOPLE AND WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT. I THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY UNDERSTAND THAT ADDICTION HAS NO FACE AND LIKE MR. COLEMAN WAS JUST SAYING, EVERY SINGLE PERSON THAT WE HELP THEN HAS A CHANCE TO HELP SOMEBODY ELSE AND BE THAT FATHER, AND THAT BROTHER, AND THAT SON. AND THAT’S WHAT WE WORK TO DO AT THE COMPANY I WORK FOR AND IN THE TREATMENT FIELD IN GENERAL IS TO GIVE THOSE PEOPLE ANOTHER CHANCE LIKE I GOT. I MEAN WE TALKED ABOUT OVERDOSE AND THE ONES THAT AREN’T DYING BUT ARE STILL EXPERIENCING THIS. MYSELF, HAD THREE.
JOSE: DOES THAT DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE AS WELL?
KOCH: YEAH. I HAD THREE CLINICAL OVERDOSES IN ONE YEAR. AND EVERY SINGLE TIME I WAS SO FILLED WITH GUILT AND SHAME THAT I DIDN’T LOOK AT THE HELP OPTIONS. BUT IT WAS ACTUALLY AFTER LAW ENFORCEMENT THAT SAVED MY LIFE AND, YOU KNOW, IT WAS ALL OF US WORKING TOGETHER LIKE WHAT WE HAD AT THE SUMMIT AND HAVING EVERYBODY IN ONE ROOM TO BREAK THE SILOS IS THE ANSWER TO THIS.
JOSE: SO DOUG GOING BACK TO THE SUMMIT, AND OF THAT ONE WE ACTUALLY HAVE SOME PICTURES TO SHOW OF THE CONFERENCE. WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME? I MEAN YOU HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE SHARING INFORMATION, MUCH OF IT I’M SURE EVERYBODY KIND OF HAD A SENSE FOR ANYWAYS, BUT WHAT WERE THE CONCRETE RESULTS?
COLEMAN: SO I THINK THAT THE BIGGEST CONCRETE RESULT THAT WE GOT IS A LOT OF NETWORKING. RIGHT? YOU TALKED ABOUT DO YOU GUYS WORK TOGETHER ON A REGULAR BASIS. SO WE GOT A LOT OF NETWORKING OUT OF IT AS WE ALL MET PEOPLE THAT WE CAN USE IN OUR PROFESSIONAL LIVES AS LAW ENFORCEMENT, PREVENTION, OR TREATMENT FOLKS. AND THE BIGGEST THING THAT I THINK THAT WE GET OUT OF THAT IS PUTTING EVERYBODY IN THAT ROOM AWARENESS TALKING ABOUT THE ISSUES. AND AS JOHN SAID, WE HAVE TO PUT A FACE TO THESE OVERDOSE ISSUES. THESE ARE PEOPLE, THESE ARE HUMAN BEINGS. IF WE CAN SAVE THEN WE WANT TO SAVE THEM. BUT REALIZING ALSO THAT WE ALL HAVE A ROLE. WE’RE NOT GOING TO TREAT OUR WAY OUT OF THIS PROBLEM, WE’RE NOT GONNA PREVENT OUR WAY OUT OF THIS PROBLEM. WE HAVE A LOT OF DIFFERENT PIECES AND THINGS THAT WE HAVE TO DO AND I THINK THAT THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. PUTTING US ALL TOGETHER AND SAY HEY YOU KNOW WHAT THIS A PROBLEM THAT WE ALL HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR AND ALL HAVE A ROLE IN. SO THAT’S WHAT I THINK THAT IS MOST IMPORTANT ABOUT THE SUMMIT.
JOSE: SO JOHN, WHAT TURNED IT AROUND FOR YOU?
KOCH: YOU KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THIS ROCK BOTTOM THAT PEOPLE EXPERIENCE, I DON’T BELIEVE I REALLY HIT A ROCK BOTTOM. IF I WAS GONNA DIE FROM OPIOIDS OR GIVE IT A SHOT AT SOMETHING THAT I WASN’T TRYING AND I GAVE IT A SHOT AND IT WAS ACTUALLY THE BREAKING MOMENT WAS TWO TIMES. A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER SHOWED ME LOVE AND COMPASSION AND THEN ALSO A COUNCILOR SHOWED ME LOVE AND COMPASSION AND WITH THOSE TWO THINGS IT GAVE ME THIS MUCH HOME AND WITH THAT I WAS ABLE TO START AND GET MY LIFE BACK TOGETHER.
JOSE: SO DOUG LAST QUESTION, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS? IS THERE GOING TO BE ANOTHER SUMMIT?
COLEMAN: YEAH, YOU KNOW, WE ARE GOING TO PLAN ON ANOTHER SUMMIT AND WE HOPE WE’LL TRY TO DO ONE OF THESE EVERY YEAR TO GET EVERYBODY BACK TOGETHER ON WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO? I THINK THAT AS A COUNTRY WE ARE DEALING WITH THIS ISSUE. THE OPIOID ISSUE WAS HUGE, OBVIOUSLY WITH ALL THE OVERDOSE DEATHS. DEA IS DOING OUR ROLE AND WHAT WE DO IN GOING AFTER THE MAJOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS AROUND THE WORLD. WE’RE WORKING WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES TO TRY AND ADDRESS THESE ISSUES FROM A LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSPECTIVE AND WE’RE PUTTING EVERYBODY TOGETHER TO TRY AND LOOK FOR SOLUTIONS. UNFORTUNATELY, I THINK THAT THE PROBLEM IS GOING TO GET A LITTLE WORSE FOR US BEFORE IT GETS BETTER. IN THE THIRTY YEARS THAT I’VE BEEN GOING THIS I’VE SEEN THESE CYCLES GO UP AND DOWN UP AND DOWN ALL THE TIME AND I THINK THAT WE ARE STILL IN THE A-PACKS OF THE OPIOID ISSUE HERE IN THE UNITED STATES.
JOSE: IT CERTAINLY FEELS THAT WAY. THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US ON HORIZONTE TO DISCUSS THIS.
COLEMAN: THANK YOU.
KOCH: THANK YOU.

The first “Arizona Drug Summit: United for Solutions” addressed drug threats, prevention programs and treatment initiatives. At the event, agencies heard different perspectives regarding drug use and the impact on society drugs have today. Douglas Coleman, special agent in charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration Phoenix division, and John Koch, community impact manager for Community Medical Services, join us to talk about the summit.

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In this segment:

Douglas Coleman and John Koch

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