Ray Carroll: Why I joined the fight to end opiate abuse

By Ray Carroll

Just shy of 20 years as Pima County’s District 4 supervisor, it was time to decide whether to seek a sixth term or hang up my spurs from elected life altogether. I decided now would be the right time to do an encore career in the world of nonprofit service. I hope to somehow move my success in politics to significance in a more direct and meaningful way with humanity as my focus.

Long before I was in politics, I served as foundation manager for Sister Kathleen Clark’s Casa de Los Niños Foundation. She had been an emergency room nurse; saddened by seeing the same children in crisis over and over and over, she prayed for a solution to end child abuse. It was then she realized that “the someone” who could help was herself.

Like Sister Kathleen, I, too, had an epiphany that the most meaningful humanitarian work I could do is to focus on the U.S. opiate crisis, ending its rampant toll on our nation by joining the lifesaving team of experts at Amity Foundation.

It is with the Amity Foundation that I have found the perfect place for my encore career.

I am grateful to the leadership of this nationally recognized organization in the battle against the opioid epidemic. Amity was a leader in this battle in the 1970s and is still engaged to this day. Amity Foundation is dedicated to the research and development of the best practices in fighting addiction of all types and possesses enormous expertise in family reunification, rebuilding lives and providing integrity, hope and possibilities for all.

On Aug. 23, National Public Radio featured a segment about skyrocketing addiction issues in the United States. It revealed the shocking fact that 40 percent of the U.S. is experiencing an addiction issue – including addictions to food, gambling, sex/pornography, work, exercise, social-media and others beyond substance abuse.

Opioids were never intended to be a cure-all. But their growing and ubiquitous availability has led our mothers, fathers, children, grandchildren, friends, spouses, employers and neighbors to become disenfranchised, addicted, dying in ever-increasing numbers. This epidemic is eroding our communities, our values and the fabric of our society at an ever-increasing rate and accelerating pace.

Turning our heads away from this problem only allows it to grow, literally faster by the day.

I want my community to engage with us in this fight! This insidious epidemic is now at a level where opioid overdoses total 142 deaths every single day nationally – two die every day in Arizona. My friend, Gov. Doug Ducey, has recently declared a public health emergency in our Grand Canyon State, and I have been involved in the discussions and actions taken at a national level. The U.S., which has 5 percent of the world’s population, consumes 80 percent of all prescribed opiates produced and distributed worldwide.

In the deserving communities of Tucson, Pima County and beyond, I want to do well and do good while working alongside so many of my friends who have committed to a life of service. I admire people in Pima County who devote themselves tirelessly to causes, which are too numerous to mention here.

Please visit www.amityfdn.org online. If you have a problem or would like to help, you can reach me at rcarroll@amityfdn.org

Ray Carroll is a former Pima County Supervisor.

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