The Sober Living AZ Blog

Maricopa County Overdose-Related Deaths

Posted on 08/28/19: Uncategorized

Arizona is a very hot, but very beautiful state. Living in the valley of the sun comes with a lot of perks: more affordable living, beautiful outdoor sceneries, unique culture, etc. However, just like any other state in the U.S., it is not without its own set of issues. One issue that has been surrounding Metro Phoenix, or more specifically Maricopa County, is the number of overdoses its residents have been suffering from. There is no denying the fact that there is an opioid epidemic in this country and, unfortunately, it has penetrated the state of Arizona. In this blog, we’ll be discussing just how serious this epidemic is and what we can do to fight against it.

Addiction in the U.S.

People in the U.S. are no strangers to addiction it’s something a lot of people struggle or have struggled with. In 2017, studies showed that there were over 19.7 million Americans who attested to having a substance dependency or have struggled with one in the past. Most of these people suffered from alcohol addiction, but 38% of them suffered from illicit substance addiction. Statistics show that 1 out of every 7 young adults suffers from some form of substance abuse, that’s 14.8% of the nation’s population. It is unfortunate to see so many people suffer from addiction; it’s easy to beat. Now that we know how addiction has been plaguing the U.S., it’s time for us to discuss how it has been affecting Arizona.

Addiction in Arizona

Addiction in this country is no joke, and it’s a huge issue in Arizona. Since 2013, opioid-related deaths have become a growing problem for Arizona residents. Death rates for opioid-related overdoses have grown 76% since 2013. These opioids can range from prescribed medications to illicit substances like heroin, fentanyl, or meth. Overdoses on opioids accounted for 928 deaths in 2017 alone. The average amount of opioid-related deaths per 100,000 people in Arizona is eerily close to the national average. In Arizona, there have been 13.4 deaths per 100,000 people, slightly less than the national average of  14.6 deaths per 100,000 people. Even more alarming is the fact that in 2012, there were 36 fentanyl-related deaths, but in 2017 there were over 260. In Arizona, heroin accounts for around 300+ deaths every year and prescribed opioids account for over 400 deaths annually. Addiction has become a growing issue with Americans, Arizonians, and (more specifically) Maricopa County residents.

Addiction in Maricopa County

Arizona is a big state, but Metro Phoenix/Maricopa County undeniably make up most of the population. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the statistics that have been gathered on overdose-related death rates in Maricopa County. Studies have shown that there have been 411 overdose-related deaths in 2019 alone. From May 2018 to April 2019, there have been 1,348 deaths from overdose. Toxicology reports showed that most of these deaths were from alcohol, opioid, or meth overdose. Though all these substances account for some of these deaths, opioids hold steadfast as the leading cause for overdose deaths in Maricopa County. They accounted for 73% of the overdose-related deaths in Maricopa County from May 2018 to April 2019. That’s more than 893 deaths annually if this trend continues. 

In 2019, reports showed that 91% of these deaths were caused by mixing drugs. Users likely mixed two substances without realizing the consequences that were waiting for them. Reports also showed that 89% of them were likely an accident. You may be asking yourself, how can that be an accident? It’s easy to say something like that when you’re on the outside looking in. What you don’t realize is just how serious opioid addiction, or addiction in general for that matter, can be. Addiction takes control of your life and turns you into something you aren’t. As a person starts to continually use a substance, they develop a tolerance, causing them to crave higher doses. When a person starts to develop a tolerance and use in higher doses, they can get dangerously close to an overdose. It’s no wonder 89% of these overdose-related deaths in Maricopa County were accidental.

Although these statistics are scary, there has been some good news through all this. As we mentioned earlier, opioids take up about 73% of overdose-related deaths annually. How does this happen? A big reason as to why this happens is that patients are prescribed strong opioids when they may not necessarily need it. These drugs can be addictive if doses are not properly monitored. Thankfully, Maricopa County physicians have decreased the number of opioid prescriptions they give out every year. In 2013, there were over 3.1 million prescriptions handed out, but has decreased to less than 2 million since 2016. This is a step in the right direction and can help fight against the growing opioid struggle that has been plaguing the U.S., Arizona, and Maricopa County. 

Here’s a very informative article on combating the opioid crisis:

What Can Be Done?

Physicians and Doctors are taking a step in the right direction by lowering the number of prescriptions they hand out to their patients, but what can we do? The simple answer is, stop the stigma. Unfortunately, there is a problematic stigma that surrounds addiction. People tend to think addiction is a choice and if someone is struggling they should just stop using. What they don’t realize is that it is not that easy. Addiction is a disease that affects your mental and physical health, completely taking control of your mind, body, and soul. When we end the stigma and educate people on this disease, we can better help those people who are struggling. When people start to realize it’s safe to admit they have struggles, they can get proper help. Let’s fight to end the stigma together so that Maricopa County, Arizona, the U.S., and nations around the world can end this war with addiction.

If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Sober Living of AZ now to get the help you need. Sober Living offers an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare. Call us now at 602-737-2458.

Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.

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