Facts About Prescription Drug Abuse In Arizona
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Facts About Prescription Drug Abuse
in Arizona

Illicit drugs receive ample media attention, but prescription drug abuse has become a national crisis that has hit Arizona hard. Nationally, this epidemic has been brewing: a 2009 survey demonstrated that 7 million Americans had recently misused a prescription drug. Perhaps most astonishing is that this number means more people were abusing cocaine, heroin, inhalants, and hallucinogens – combined.

How Prescription Drug Addiction Affects Arizona

Different states are experiencing different levels of trouble. Arizona ranks among the mid-range states for prescription drug overdose deaths, but this is a scenario that leads to escalated use. In 2014, there were just over 1,200 cases across the state. Arizona didn’t show a statistically significant increase in deaths in previous years, but the ranking is climbing. There was a 2.7 percent decrease in deaths from 2013 to 2014. In 2015, however, the state was ranked number 12 for drug overdose mortality.

Arizona is currently better off than other states, but the pattern of escalation continues. Last year there were enough prescription pain relievers dispensed to medicate each Arizona adult continuously for two weeks (according to the state government). This equals more than 300 million pills released into the state in the course of a year.

Prescription drug abuse is classically more common in adults than adolescents, although current trends suggest the gap is closing. Thirteen percent of adult residents of the state admitted to misusing the drugs, while 8 percent of youth said the same. Because of these numbers, Arizona is listed as the 6th highest for abuse among people 12 and older.

The Personal and Financial Costs of Addiction to Arizona

Arizona narcotic possession arrest rates have sharply increased. From 2010 to 2012, there was a 15 percent jump. The year 2013 also included more than 4,000 DUI drug arrests, which is a monumental 99.4 percent rise in the course of the last decade. Such numbers mean that the state must pay for the increased law enforcement.

The Personal And Financial Costs Of Addiction To ArizonaThere are many costs associated with prescription drug abuse – and many involve more than money. Families are torn apart and lives are destroyed, but many people underestimate the potential devastation because the drugs typically come from a doctor. Additionally, there are big monetary retributions, aside from the deaths and degradation of abusers’ lives.

In 2012, the state spent more than $177 million on emergency room visits and hospitalizations for poisonings (of which prescription drugs are the leading cause). The average bill for each visit is an astounding $4,769. State statistics for the previous year were equally disturbing. Of the nearly 10,000 ER visits, more than 2,300 of the patients there for opioid abuse were under 24 years old. What began as an addiction of primarily adults seems to be spreading to the younger generations.

The Unfortunate Trickle-Down Effect of Addiction

Unfortunately, the epidemic isn’t limited to teenagers and young adults. Around 3 out of every 1,000 Arizona babies were born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, which means they were born an addict. These babies must suffer painful and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms in their first hours of life.

Lack of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs in Arizona

AZ Counties MapThere are certain social conditions that may be amplifying prescription drug abuse problems in Arizona. Most notably, this type of drug abuse is often seen as socially acceptable because the drugs are believed to be safe. Education about the dangers of prescription drug addiction would go a long way, but a mere 26 percent of prescribers across the state participate in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Most people underestimate the risks associated with prescription drugs, as well as the legal charges that they could face. Physicians aren’t always properly trained in dosage guidelines, largely because there are few consistent restrictions.

Although prescription drug abuse is a statewide problem, some areas fare worse than others. We will break down how Arizona is affected by the rampant prescription drug abuse epidemic that has hit all of the United States, not just Arizona, on a county by county basis. Here are important statistics for each county, listed alphabetically.

Breakdowns by County

Below, we’ll break down each county and detail the difference between each one:

Apache County

Two million pain reliever pills were dispensed in Apache County last year. Six percent of youth and 13 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 27 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Arrest rates in Apache County increased 48 percent from 2010 to 2012.

Cochise County

Nearly 8 million pain reliever pills were dispensed in Cochise County last year, making it among the highest. Nine percent of youth and 26 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 111 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Arrest rates in Cochise County were 8th highest in the state in 2012.

Coconino County

Over 5 million pain reliever pills were dispensed in Coconino County last year. Seven percent of youth and 13 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 95 emergency room visits involving dependency or abuse of opioids.

Gila County

Another 5 million pain reliever pills were dispensed in Gila County last year. Seven percent of youth reported current misuse, but only 5 percent of adults stated the same. There were 71 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Gila County was number one in the state for DUI-D arrest rates in 2013.

Graham County

A reported 3 million pain reliever pills were dispensed in Graham County last year, making it among the highest. Five percent of youth and 26 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 82 emergency room cases involving opioid abuse or dependency. Arrest rates for narcotics in Graham County were 7th highest in the state in 2012.

Greenlee County

Over 500,000 pain reliever pills were dispensed in Greenlee County last year. Eight percent of youth and 26 percent of adults in the region reported current misuse, although numbers in Greenlee were lower. There were only 8 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids in 2011.

La Paz County

In La Paz County, 1.2 million pain reliever pills were dispensed last year. Eight percent of youth and 24 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were only 7 emergency room cases involving dependency or opioid abuse.

Maricopa County

Cochise County reported that 189 million pain reliever pills were dispensed last year, making it among the highest in the state. Eight percent of youth and 12 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were an astonishing 7.761 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Arrest rates for narcotics in Maricopa County were highest in the state in 2012.

Mohave CountyLack of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs in Arizona

Mohave County had equally distressing numbers, with 19.9 million pain reliever pills dispensed last year. Eleven percent of youth report current misuse, which is the highest rate in the state. Thirteen percent of adults reported misuse as well. There were 253 emergency room cases involving dependency or opioid abuse. Narcotic possession arrest rates in Mohave County were 3rd highest in the state in 2012.

Navajo County

Over 6 million pain reliever pills were dispensed last year in Navajo County. Eight percent of youth and 13 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 53 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Narcotic possession arrest rates were 7th highest in the state in 2012.

Pima County

Sixty-one million pain reliever pills were dispensed last year in Pima County, making it among the highest. Eight percent of youth and 15 percent of adults reported current misuse, although they rank 5th in youth abuse rates. There were 2,834 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Narcotic possession arrest rates were 2nd highest in the state in 2012.

Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County fared better than others, with 1.2 million pain reliever pills dispensed last year. Six percent of youth and 26 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were only 29 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids.

Yavapai County

With 16 million pain reliever pills dispensed last year in Yavapai County, the area has been suffering. Nine percent of youth and 13 percent of adults reported current misuse, ranking Yavapai 3rd in youth abuse rates. There were 296 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids in 2011. Narcotic possession arrest rates were 4th highest in the state in 2012.

Yuma County

In Yuma County, over 7 million pain reliever pills were dispensed last year. Seven percent of youth and 13 percent of adults reported current misuse. There were 113 emergency room cases involving dependency or abuse of opioids. Narcotic possession arrest rates were 8th highest in the state in 2012, but the rates for drug manufacturing and sales were highest in Arizona there.

How to Help Fix Arizona’s Growing Prescription Drug Addiction Problem

Although the battle is uphill, there ways to reduce drug abuse rates in Arizona. First, practice proper storage of prescriptions. Most youth report getting drugs from family members. Avoid posting surgeries or injuries on social media. If people know that you have pain medication, it can make you a target. Support permanent prescription drug disposal boxes as well. Perhaps most importantly, talk about the issue. Silence fuels this growing crisis.

Reflections Recovery Is Arizona’s Partner in Battling Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction in Our State

WE OFFER A VARIETY OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG DETOX, COUNSELING, TREATMENT, INPATIENT, AND OUTPATIENT PROGRAMS FOR THE SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT OF RX DRUG ABUSE AND ADDICTION:

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