Rise Up! Glendale works

Rise Up! Glendale works with law enforcement, health care, education, and various other community-based organizations and volunteers to reduce the demand for drugs through methods like websites and social media awareness, education campaigns, drug takeback events, Naloxone and Deterra drug disposal kit distribution, community surveys, assessment of community needs, and in-school resiliency and prevention education, specifically tailored to meet the needs of the community.

Glendale-based Youth4Youth has written a grant to help create Rise Up! Glendale, a group of concerned community leaders and members working to reduce youth alcohol, marijuana and prescription drug use/abuse in the city.

“Our goal is to mentor, develop them and then turn them loose,” said Larry Tracey, the Youth4Youth executive director.

“We want them to be on their own and exist for decades.”

Rise Up! Glendale began in October 2020, when it was discovered that the city had no localized substance abuse prevention efforts. The mission is to unite Glendale in preventing substance use among youth while providing the life skills to rise up to their potential.

According to Tracey, Rise Up! Glendale works with law enforcement, health care, education, and various other community-based organizations and volunteers to reduce the demand for drugs through methods like websites and social media awareness, education campaigns, drug takeback events, Naloxone and Deterra drug disposal kit distribution, community surveys, assessment of community needs, and in-school resiliency and prevention education, specifically tailored to meet the needs of the community. 

In addition, it works hand in hand with the Arizona National Guard Drug Demand Reduction Outreach. Youth4Youth and Arizona National Guard are also working with Peoria for 3PC (Peoria Primary Prevention Coalition).

Rise Up! Glendale, Tracey said, wants to educate schools and youth on the dangers of opioids, including fentanyl. Glendale and Peoria were chosen for reasons such as Glendale having the highest overdose rate in the state, he said.

“That’s not good news,” Tracey added. “In January, we’re working on focus groups and with parents and teens to find out from them where the hotspots are and what they are seeing. We want to get a student and parent perspective.

“After that, we’ll interview people on the street as well as medical and fire.”

Working in tandem, Youth4Youth will expand its drug takeback event. Over the last year, during four events, more than 1,300 pounds of unused prescription drugs were collected.

“That’s a record,” he said. “It blows all the other places away. We had 43 boxes filled with nothing but pills.”

The goal for Rise Up! Glendale, as well as Youth4Youth, is to educate and create awareness of issues affecting students. Since it was founded, there have been more than 2,730 unique Rise Up! Glendale website visitors.

There was recently a major drug bust in Glendale in which law enforcement found more than 4 pounds of fentanyl powder, over 200,000 fentanyl-laced pills, and more than 5 pounds of cocaine. Although this was taken off of the streets, there is far more out there, Tracey said.

“Fentanyl is a bigger problem than people know,” Tracey added. “That’s the part that kills. When I come out of surgery, and I feel like a Mack truck hit me, I know they used fentanyl.

“On the streets, they’re making counterfeit pills. They look like the real deal unless you’re a trained professional. Percocet, Vicodin, oxycontin, all pills on the street are counterfeit. The mixture inside is not regulated.”

Marijuana, he said, comes laced with fentanyl on the black market.

“Your cocaine, your opioids, your heroin, everything has it in there. Fentanyl is the  highest addictive. It’s probably 50 times more potent than heroin. That’s the whole thing right there. It’s easy to get addicted to it.”

Drug use up

Based on the 2020 Arizona Youth Survey data between 2016 and 2020 when comparing the past 30 days:

• 10.9% increase in alcohol use among Glendale youth.

• 64.5% increase in marijuana use among Glendale youth.

• 58.2% increase in e-cigarette use among Glendale youth.

• 65.1% increase in RX opioid use among Glendale youth.

• 72.2% increase in RX stimulant use among Glendale youth.

• 485.7% increase in RX sedative use among Glendale youth.

As shown above, the Glendale community and its youth need support, said Larry Tracey, the Youth4Youth executive director.

For more information, visit

wowcoalition.org, riseupglendale.org or 3pcoalition.org.