On May 1, the Florida legislature voted 40-0 to expand a pilot needle-exchange program from Miami-Dade county to
all Florida counties.  The measure will allow Syringe Service Programs (SSPs) to operate statewide, widening the distribution of unused needles, Naloxone, H.I.V. testing and treatment referrals.

We here at Sonoran Prevention Works fully support this measure, and we applaud the efforts of the lawmakers and advocates who have worked to bring about this legislation.  Like Arizona, Florida is a conservative state; the similarities between the two states give us great hope that the evidence-based, lifesaving steps taken in Florida are possible in Arizona, as well.

Florida’s lawmakers wisely examined the data related to SSP use in various areas, including in Miami-Dade county, where they elected to run a test SSP program.  Unsurprisingly, in areas where SSPs have been put in place, rates of H.I.V. infection have dropped dramatically, the presence of improperly-discarded needles has decreased, and opiate overdoses have been sharply curtailed by the distribution of Naloxone (Narcan) and its use by people who use drugs.

Arizona and Florida are two of the states reported to have had the greatest increase in overdose deaths between 2016 and 2017.  But while Florida’s increase was a mere 5.9%, Arizona’s increase was 9.4%.  With no further steps taken in Arizona to slow the effects of the opioid epidemic, we can expect the death rate to continue to increase.

We at Sonoran Prevention Works wish to re-assert our evidence-based, data-driven support for the legalization of SSPs, the implementation of which is the single most effective weapon we Arizonans can wield against the deadly drug problem that grips our whole country, and our state in particular.