Heroin and Opioids: A Growing Epidemic

An opioid related epidemic has been growing for a number of years in our city and sadly just now beginning to break into the immediate realities of the mainstream consciousness.

Current Arizona Department of Health Services and National Institute on Drug Abuse information show a strikingly grim reality; although heroin and opioid related deaths in the U.S. and Arizona have been increasing for nearly a decade now, 2016 marked a spike in the overall trend.

A look at some of the recently released statistics show how serious and widespread the issue has become.

  • In 2016, somewhere between 59,000 and 65,000 people died of overdoses in the U.S.
  • In Arizona, a total of 790 people (on average more than two a day) dies from overdose of opioid prescription medication s and heroin in 2016.
  • Over the last five years, heroin related deaths have triples in Arizona, and heroin specifically accounted for 39 percent of all opioid deaths last year.
  • Arizona adults 45 to 54 had the highest overdose rates at 18.1 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • Additionally, "opiod-related encounters" cost the Arizona health-care system more than $341 million in 2015 alone and there were an estimated 51,000 "opioid-related encounters" at hospitals in 2016.

State health officials report that this surge shows no signs of stopping.

Phoenix Rescue Mission is doing it's part to help with the surge in overdoses in Arizona. We are already training our staff and volunteers on opiod safety and overdose prevention, as well as the recognition of an overdose. We are also now providing many of our centers and our Hope Coach with Naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opiods. Administering Naloxone during an overdose is the first step in saving a life!

It's another way that your support is keeping our neighboss on this side of eternity! Our hope is to provide more man and women like Trevor (cover), who have gotten caught up in this tremendously addictive and deadly drug, with a second shot at life and a second chance at transformation.

Winter Wonderland

Our annual Winter Wonderland Event is right around the corner on December 16th. It's a special day where the families we serve select a toy for their children for Christmas and children can "shop" for their parents.

We need toys for children of all ages, as well as items for adults like household wares, personal care items, blankets, and tools. There will also be cookie decorating, fun activities and hot chocolate for everyone! Bring your unwrapped items to our Mission Support Center, 1468 N. 26th Avenue by Friday, December 15th from 8am - 4 pm (closed Saturdays and Sunday).

 

Winter Wonderland - December 16th

Bring all toys donations to:

1468 N. 26th Ave by Friday, December 15th from 8am-4pm

Love. Connect. Serve.

The holiday season is a tough time for the men, women, and children at the Phoenix Rescue Mission. The end of the year always has a way of bringing up emotions that leave you feeling broken, longing for a new start. October for Southgate church, however, is a long-anticipated time of year. "Planning has been going on for the last few month," Josie a member of Southgate explains.

This year is the fourth year Southgate has been coming to the Phoenix Rescue Mission's Changing Lives Center for women and children, and throwing an all-campus festival. "This event is the highlight of the year for our church!" At Southgate, the mission is LOVE. CONNECT. SERVE. "Today is all about that," Nate a Southgate member explains. This is our community outreach, and we love partnering with the Phoenix Rescue Mission to do this event every year. "This is a great distraction, Rebecca, a client at the Phoenix Rescue Mission says. "It is so important to have fun while in recovery, we work so hard. Today was much needed. I feel refreshed."

Southgate church shuts down for the day, and members "bring church" to the Changing Lives Center. The day begins with church service, and after service the campus becomes a fair of sorts. With games, a bounce house, a dunk tank, and plenty of food to feed almost 200 bellies!

Thank you to Southgate church and all of it's members for coming together and making this event happen year after year. These days are so critical in the recovery of the women and their children working towards new life at the Phoenix Rescue Mission.

"I love seeing all the smiles," says Connie a client of the Changing Lives Center, "it's a good day!"

“Saying Good Bye to My Old Self”

When you walk around the Mission, you see men and women who came from a variety of situations. Many of them still wear signs of their past selves on their skin. Tattoos can be a permanent reminder of your past, your old self. _____ explains the tattoo that goes across her entire neck. "It was my old street name, this was what everyone on the streets knew me by."

The National Laser Institute recognizes that some decisions can never be undone. Tattoos, often are one of those decisions. "When I look at my tattoos, I am reminded of my past."

Like many organization, churches, individuals that partner with the Mission, the National Laser Institute wanted to be a part of life transformation. They offered to serve four women going through program at the Mission, and remove the tattoos of their pasts, free of charge. The day after their treatments, the women were already seeing their tattoos fading.

National Laser Institute instructor, Shelley Cook, has provided our clients with an opportunity to have their tattoos removed by being subjects of teaching for new laser techs. An ambassador of the Mission, John Humphrey, shared this resource with the Mission and allows us to identify clients in need of this service and each campus moving forward with set up transportation once every 8 weeks to have clients receive this gift!

"It was very emotional, it was riding myself of my old identity. The old is gone."

The National Laser Institute is giving individuals working towards new life, a chance to continue in their transformation. This month we were able to help nine clients with LIFE CHANGING TATTOO REMOVAL. Some of the clients will require multiple trips and some tattoos will be done with one trip, but it depends on how your body absorbs the ink.

The Phoenix Rescue Mission is so blessed by organizations, churches, and individuals who want to serve.  step up to be a part of life transformation for the men, women, and children that are currently going through program at the Phoenix Rescue Mission.

Panda to the Rescue!

Going from the streets to the counseling sessions and classrooms of the Phoenix Rescue Mission's Changing Lives Center can be a tough transition for our women. But for the children they often have in tow – it can be terrifying. Another unfamiliar place. Another set of strangers. Another adjustment to make. But it’s amazing how those sort of deep-seated fears and uncertainties take a back seat when Panda walks into the room. Suddenly smiles break out on faces and fuzzy hugs are in order.

Panda is a certified therapy dog and thanks to her owner, volunteer Bob Lentz, she comes to visit our kids every week. “These kids here spend a lot of time with her, they take turns,” says Bob. “It’s good for them to be around animals. They learn how to treat them, to be nice and respect their feelings. They learn a lot.” Panda has been specially trained and tested to be gentle around people and children, sudden noises, small spaces, and new experiences. Studies have shown that during their visits, therapy dogs are able to lower blood pressure, slow heartbeats and bring a sense of overall calm to those around them.

“They love it!” says Maritza with a smile, one of our childcare specialists. “Some of our kids are really impatient and quick to anger, but the dog is so calm… and that helps them learn how to be calm with her. They love sitting with her and hugging on her… It’s good for my kids.”

When children lack the vocabulary to express their emotions, they express it through their behavior, often receiving discipline in response. But interacting with a dog who is calm and accepting, regardless of their behavior, can speak volumes to children and teach them to emulate the patience they experience. We’d like to send a big thank you to Bob and Panda for their excellent service – and to you who help bring such wonderful opportunities for joy into our kids’ lives. It’s amazing how much hope and love can be found in a wet nose and a bundle of fur! It’s just another way that your support is changing the littlest lives on campus – one warm snuggle at a time.