The Opioid Addiction Crisis in Arizona is Real: The Statistics Say it All

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The opioid crisis in Arizona is increasing at a frightening rate and AZ health officials, law enforcement, and medical professionals are desperately trying to find a solution. In June of this year, the Arizona Department of Health Services released a telling report on opioid overdoses in the state of Arizona, showing the highest number of deaths in 10 years. In 2016, 790 Arizonans died from opioid overdoses. The opioid addiction crisis in Arizona is real!

The statistics

According to the report, here are a few key statistics that everyone should be aware of. The number of reported 2016 deaths directly attributed to opioids among Arizona residents, or nonresidents within Arizona, is 790. There is a 16.3% increase in opioid deaths since 2015, and a 74% increase since 2012. 64% of the growth in opioid deaths over the last four years, and nearly 54% in the last two years have been heroin deaths. Heroin has increased from 11% of opioid deaths in 2007 to 39% in 2016. It’s also reported that fifteen opioid-suspected deaths were recorded in one week in Arizona. Those deaths were among the 191 opioid overdose cases overall recorded from June 15th-22nd. Right now, the state is averaging two deaths of day from opioid overdose. The opioid epidemic has prompted a state and national public-health response with measures to raise awareness about the dangers of over-prescribing pain pills and to make the overdose-rescue medication naloxone more widely available.

Why are opioids so addictive?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of people who try heroin will become addicted. How does addiction happen? Long-term opioid use changes the way nerve cells work in the brain. This happens even to people who take opioids for a long time to treat pain, as prescribed by their doctor. The nerve cells grow used to having opioids around, so that when they are taken away suddenly, the person can have lots of unpleasant feelings and reactions. These are known as withdrawal symptoms. Although heroin withdrawal isn’t usually fatal, the experience can be so agonizing that many users would do anything to avoid it. Symptoms of withdrawal include nausea, vomiting, chills, diarrhea, goose bumps, tremors, muscle and bone pain, agitation, anxiety, and overwhelming cravings. These symptoms can start within 24 hours after taking your last dose of heroin.People who seek help and treatment for pain from a trusted medical professional often unknowingly become addicted to those medications.

What can you do if you become addicted?

Addiction is far more than a craving. It also means there are troubling consequences that can often disrupt someone’s personal life or job. Addiction means the individual has lost control over the use of the drug.  A range of treatments exist for heroin addiction, including medications and behavioral therapies. Treatment often begins with medically assisted detoxification, to help patients withdraw from the drug safely. Medications such as clonidine and, now, buprenorphine can be used to help minimize symptoms of withdrawal. The best way to help not only overcome the addiction but to stay sober is to work with a professional addiction center that has several treatment options, including inpatient treatment and intensive outpatient treatment. Understanding how addiction opioids are, and how easy it can be to get addicted, it’s important to understand that addiction is not something to be ashamed of, and getting treatment is crucial to overcoming addiction.

If you are addicted to opioids, it’s important to seek help early. Contact the Arizona Addiction Recovery Center now by visiting or calling 602.346.9130.