Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona

Cochise County Drug Summit

The first Cochise County Drug Summit took place in Sierra Vista on April 10, 2024. The Legacy Foundation was instrumental in planning, coordinating, and facilitating the event. After receiving confirmation from Sam Quinones, nationally known journalist and writer as keynote speaker, the event began to take shape.

In collaboration with Cochise Addiction Recovery Partnership (CARP), a planning committee was established. Committee members included the Legacy Foundation, City of Douglas, HOPE, Inc, Cochise Health and Social Services, Banner Health, Benson Hospital, Arizona Complete Health, Sonoran Prevention Works, and the office of the Cochise County Superintendent of Schools.

The topic of substance abuse and recovery is extremely complex and multi-faceted. There are so many different areas of focus, such as stigma, recovery, prevention, treatment, resources, homelessness, education, etc. The general concept of the Summit was to convene organizations that often don’t know about each other or don’t know what others are doing although they are working towards the same goals. Invited attendees were any services involved with substance use disorder i.e., sober living homes, drug rehabs, counseling services, inpatient care, child welfare, first responders, Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, Cochise Health and Social Services, medication assisted treatment services, harm reduction, schools, pre-hospital services, nonprofits, peer run groups, Arizona Complete Health, youth coalitions, County Attorney’s Office, Drug Enforcement Agency, hospitals, and people with lived experiences.

The committee identified the following priorities for the Summit:

  • Help Cochise County fully understand how big the problem is
  • Convene organizations to begin collaborative communication
  • Share resources
  • Explore funding (Opioid Settlement Funds)
  • Hear from community members with lived experience
  • Begin to take collaborative action

Attended by over 100 people, each person was seated by community (Benson, Bisbee, Douglas, Willcox, Sierra Vista, and Countywide) so that conversations could be had at the community level.

A live poll was done to kick-off the day asking several quick questions. Two key questions and answers were:

  • What is the highest priority in addressing substance abuse? Top answers were prevention, recovery, and education.
  • What is the greatest gap in addressing substance abuse? Top answers were resources, stigma, and education.

To help understand how big the problem is several presentations offering Cochise County data were provided:

Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Great Tragedy: Jan Jones, MS, Counseling Psychology, Instructor Cochise

College

Keynote Speaker: Sam Quinones, Journalist and Author, The True Tale of America’s Opioid Epidemic

Cochise Addiction Recovery Partnership Report: Kraig Fullen, Chief of Police, City of Douglas

Recent Trends in Overdose Fatality: Rachael Rawlings, MPH, Epidemiologist, Cochise County Health and Social Services

Cochise Harm Reduction 2023 Impact Report: Lu Funk, Cochise Harm Reduction Founder and Executive Director

Drug Prevention in Schools: Charlotte Taylor, Cochise County Schools Behavioral Health Coordinator

Drug Enforcement Agency Report: Cheri Oz, Special Agent in Charge

Treating Substance Use Disorder: Melody Glenn, MD, MFA, FASAM

In addition to the above presentations, several community members shared their lived-experiences:

JJ – shared his experience in addiction and recovery

Angie – shared her experience of addiction and recovery as a student in high school and the continued problem of drugs in

the schools

Bill – shared his experience of being a parent and grandparent of someone in active addiction

Samual – shared the experience of his ongoing struggle with addiction

A catered lunch, provided by Aladdin Catering and funded by the Legacy Foundation, gave opportunity for networking and robust discussions.

Following presentations and lunch, tables regrouped into their community. Each table was provided three handouts, each with an action step:

Step 1: List assets in your community that can address substance abuse

Step 2: Using the assets identified, list 3 achievable opportunities, choosing the one with the greatest impact that is easily most do-able, i.e. low hanging fruit.

Step 3: Identify what actions can be taken within the next 30 days to help achieve the opportunity identified above.

With facilitation by Sally Holcomb from Arizona Complete Health, the community action discussions were energetic, with engaging conversations at each table.

Upon completion of all three steps, each table reported out their intended action and the intended outcome of their action. All of these actions have been recorded on a spreadsheet to include team members and contact info. On a monthly basis beginning in May, each team will report on their progress at the monthly CARP meeting. Participants were also invited to join CARP if they do not already belong, and to join the Cochise Network Breakfast if they do not already belong.

At the completion of the day, three questions were asked of the room:

Did the day meet their expectations?

Did they meet someone new that they will continue to partner with?

Did they learn of new resources available in the community?

With each question, nearly every hand in the room went up, a sign that marked a successful day.

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