Arizona’s Opioid Epidemic

pillsLost in all of the noise over the new Senate health care plan this week, has been the devastating number of recent opioid overdoses in our state. Nearly 200 possible overdoses were reported last week alone and 15 Arizonans died.

From KVOA-TV in Tucson:

The State of Arizona is getting its first look at real-time data regarding opioid related emergencies.  

Data released on Monday indicates that health care professionals, medical examiners, and emergency responders reported 191 suspected opioid overdoses in the state last week, according to an Arizona Department of Health Services media release. Fifteen of those overdoses were fatal. 

D_DuceyKTAR News quoted Governor Doug Ducey as saying, “This new, real-time data gives us a clear picture we didn’t have before. One life lost to these highly addictive drugs is too many.”

Earlier this month, Governor Ducey declared the opioid crisis was a public health emergency in Arizona. Last year, 790 people died of opioid overdoses – a staggering 74 percent jump from just five years ago. put together a short video of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich talking about steps to fight our state’s growing opioid crisis. You can watch the video by clicking here or on the picture below.


The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) released the infographic below and it drives home a powerful message about the depth of the opioid crisis in our state.


ADHS  director, Dr, Cara Christ, said in a KJZZ News story – “We expected to see high numbers, but for one week, to have almost 200 overdoses, I think we were a little surprised by that.”

Arizona is not alone in its opioid struggles. In fact, so many states are dealing with the same issue, $45 billion dollars was just added to the Senate health bill for opioid treatment.  However, isn’t sure that money is enough to win over Senators from opioid ravaged states.

The move was widely expected as an attempt to win over moderate Republicans like Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito(W.Va.), who have both made the opioid epidemic a priority. 

But both Portman and Capito have said that their concerns extend beyond opioid money to the deep cuts the legislation would make to Medicaid.

Capito said explicitly earlier this week that more opioid money would not be enough to win her over. 

“More opioid funding would be very good and very beneficial, but the core for me is the Medicaid provision,” Capito said.

Share your thoughts on the growing opioid problem here in Arizona and whether the Senate health bill can help states like ours better battle this devastating crisis. Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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