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Overdose Fatality Review Board in Rural Arizona a Blueprint for Success in Combating Substance Use

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2023
6 pages

This brief by the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program (COSSUP) Resource Center discusses the successful implementation of an Overdose Fatality Review (OFR) Board in rural Arizona.


This publication by the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program (COSSUP) Resource Center, called Catching Up With COSSUP, discusses the 2023 annual report of the Yavapai County, Arizona, Overdose Fatality Review (OFR) Board. The report demonstrates that small towns and counties that are able to equip local stakeholders with the partnerships and data they need to produce effective responses can reduce overdose deaths on a consistent basis through social networks, resourcefulness, and resolve. In Yavapai County, the OFR has emerged as the best vehicle to deliver those data and those partnerships sustainably. The report recorded an 18 percent decrease in overdose deaths in Yavapai County from 2020 to 2022, following a 108 percent increase from 2017 to 2020. While there was a rise in overdose deaths among persons 60 years of age and older, deaths among youth under the age of 19 had remained at zero since 2021. OFRs, confidential death reviews conducted by multidisciplinary teams to improve overdose responses, are increasingly part of substance use strategies in the United States. OFR teams’ ability to break down silos between local stakeholder agencies and focus real-time data on evidence-based practices make community responses more proactive and effective. Recommendations based on OFR teams’ reviews are informing local substantive improvements to local strategies across the country. OFR teams operating in rural communities face specific challenges. Diffuse populations spread across large areas, limited transportation and treatment options, and ingrained stigma about addiction all complicate efforts to prevent and respond to overdoses. COSSUP is profiling OFR teams in rural areas that are leveraging those advantages to turn the tide of substance use toward healthier shores.

Date Published: December 1, 2023