Drug addiction and mental health problems go hand in hand like the circle of love and marriage. We use drugs to numb pain, physical or emotional, real or imagined, and because we have mental health problems. And we sometimes have mental health problems because we use too many drugs.
Arizona has had a growing problem of both drug addiction and mental health crises. Phoenix and her suburbs have been particularly hard hit, especially Gilbert, AZ, which has been the center of opioid and heroin addiction in the state for more than 10 years.
Arizona’s Growing Mental Health Crisis
Depression is a serious mental health problem. It can be fatal.
In 2015, suicide took more than 44,000 lives in America, making self-murder a significant health issue that affects people of all ages, races and ethnicities. In Arizona, suicide is such a severe issue it is ranked as the eighth-leading cause of death, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.
According to statistics taken from CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services reports, the numbers around this deadly condition in Arizona are shocking:
- Arizona had 10 child suicides (ages 14 and under) in 2015.
- Arizona had 60 teen suicides (ages 15 to 19) in 2015.
- The state had 1,276 suicides overall in 2015.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for those aged 10 to 14.
- Taking one’s own life is the second-leading cause of death for Arizonans aged 15 to 34.
- There are 2.5 times more deaths from suicide annually than homicide.
- For each successful suicide attempt, there are 25 failed attempts — with many leading to hospitalization.
- More women than men have suicidal thoughts and attempts.
- More men than women are likely to die by suicide.
Arizona Suicide Rates Have Tripled
From 2001 to 2011, the suicide rates in Arizona have soared.
Of note is the suburb of Gilbert, near Phoenix. According to the Health Status Report for Cities and Towns in Maricopa County, the suicide rate increased threefold during the decade. In 2011, there were 31 suicides; in 2000, there were only 7, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. The ratios per capita have increased as well.
The Gilbert Police Department has said it receives an average of four suicide threats or attempts each week, and one suicide completion per week. Mercy Gilbert Medical Center reports the number of mental health consultations rising over the past several years, some of which are related to suicide attempts.
Youth Suicides in Arizona
Last summer, a cluster of teen suicides rocked the community of Gilbert. Six teenagers hanged themselves, and a seventh fell victim to suicide by shooting oneself. Tragically, these young people, unknown to each other, lived less than 12 miles apart from each other. All committed suicide within a six-week period.
Subsequently, Gilbert Public Schools underwent Suicide Alertness Training to help educators recognize students who need help and to connect them with the appropriate resources.
Teen suicide prevention includes:
- Improved communication between parents and teens.
- Keeping a close watch on teens’ cellphones.
- When depression is present, asking outright whether the student plans to kill himself/herself.
- Monitoring social media.
- Removing guns, belts and other potential means of self-destruction from the home.
- Watching for drug or alcohol use.
- Watching for teens talking about dying or death.
- Being wary of teens becoming impulsive or taking unnecessary risks.
However, it’s not just the youth in Gilbert that are dying from suicide; it affects people of all ages. Friends and family may think their loved one is just depressed, but depression can become such a severe mental health crisis that suicide seems like a rational solution at the time.
Heroin and Prescription Drug Addiction Arizona on the Rise
Last year, President Trump declared that America was in the throes of a national public health emergency because of what opioids are doing to our citizens. Arizona is no exception. An American crisis, an Arizonan crisis, opioids and heroin have taken over our streets.
Derived from the age-old poppy plant, opioids are synthetic and organic drugs made from opium. One of the strongest and most addictive of these drugs is heroin, commonly snorted or liquefied and then injected. People caught up in the Gilbert, AZ heroin epidemic just call it dope.
Prescription drug addiction in Arizona is often a result of opioid use. Examples of commonly prescribed opioids are:
In the current opioid epidemic, these medications are easily ill gotten. Whether it be from a relative’s medicine cabinet or through illicit means, prescription drug addiction is rampant across the country and in Arizona.
Opioid Deaths Skyrocketing
New reports are showing a surge in opioid overdose deaths in Arizona. In fact, 2016 marked the highest number of deaths in 10 years. Heroin and prescription opioid painkillers are to blame.
People are starting out by taking painkillers for a legitimate reason, then getting hooked and moving on to something stronger. Accidentally taking too much opioid medication causes cessation of breathing and death.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services in 2016, the following statistics alarmed state officials:
- Heroin deaths have tripled since 2012.
- Every day, two Arizonans die from an opioid overdose.
- The heroin death rate is rising faster than that of prescription opioids.
- Hospitals saw more than 51,000 opioid-related encounters.
Because prescription opioid deaths are soaring and the government is cracking down on doctors who prescribe too much Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin, it’s no surprise people are turning to heroin for relief.
Drug Rehab near Gilbert, AZ
Because of the growing problem of heroin arrests, drug addiction and mental health crises in the Phoenix area, many are seeking out drug rehabs all over Arizona.
The city of Gilbert has seen heroin, a cheaper and more accessible alternative to prescription painkillers, cause an increase in narcotic-related arrests by 300 percent in the past 10 years. Regardless of the changing prescribing guidelines set forth by the government, when people are addicted, they find a way to get the drug they crave.
Treatment centers in Arizona are helping people who are addicted to heroin. The first seven to 10 days going without heroin is excruciating without medical help. Thus, professional drug rehab facilities wean people off opioids and keeps them as comfortable as possible.
If you or your son needs help with a mental health or substance abuse problem in Arizona, call Reflections Recovery Center while there is still time. Many of our clients have dealt with both a mental health issue like depression and a substance use disorder like heroin addiction. We have caring professionals waiting to help.
The Arizona families who have had to deal with these problems are in the thoughts of the team at Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, AZ. For those facing thoughts of suicide, the situation can feel hopeless. However, depression is a treatable illness. There is help available.