journal

Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Native American Communities: The Role of Environmental Health Specialists

Abstract

In Arizona, opioid-related deaths have increased by 74% since 2012. In addition, the reported number of opioid-related deaths, inpatient incidences, and emergency department incidences increased 310% from 2008–2016 among the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) service population within the Phoenix Area Indian Health Service (PAIHS). Using the Strategy to Combat Opioid Abuse, Misuse, and Overdose: A Framework Based on the Five Point Strategy as a template (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017), the Division of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) within PAIHS was able to identify several community-based actions to assist in addressing this crisis in the AI/AN communities it serves. These actions included improving opioid-related poisonings data, identifying methods to safeguard medication in the home environment, advocating for community-based prescription medication disposal programs, facilitating medical-assisted treatment training for tribal healthcare professionals, and identifying resources for naloxone to be used by tribal first responders. DEHS staff members worked collaboratively with federal, state, and tribal partners on the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of community-based activities to ensure they are effective and culturally appropriate.

 

Speaker / Author: 
CDR Robert Morones, MPH, RS/REHS, CPH, U.S. Public Health Service, Division of Environmental Health Services, Phoenix Area Indian Health Service
LT Andrea Tsatoke, MPH, RS/REHS, CPH, U.S. Public Health Service, Division of Environmental Health Services, Phoenix Area Indian Health Service
LCDR Isaac Ampadu, MEHS, RS/REHS, CPH, U.S. Public Health Service, Division of Environmental Health Services, Phoenix Area Indian Health Service
LCDR Martin Stephens, MPH, RS/REHS, CPH, U.S. Public Health Service, Division of Environmental Health Services, Phoenix Area Indian Health Service
Month Year: 
June 2021
Volume#: 
83.10
Page #: 
22-25
Publication Month: 
June 2021