The rising number of opioid-linked deaths led Arizona to declare a public health emergency in 2017. Needle exchange programs are not explicitly permitted in Arizona, but one such service operates underground, giving out clean needles and naloxone, a medicine widely used to counter effects of an opioid overdose. Will Stone / KJZZ
It’s no secret why drug users come to George Patterson in a mall parking lot just outside Phoenix to get their clean needles, syringes and other supplies on Tuesday afternoons, instead of heading to the pharmacy down the street.
“It’s really low-barrier the way we are doing it,” Patterson says. “All you have to do is find us.”
Patterson asks for no IDs, no signatures and no questions — all of which can dissuade IV drug users