Opioid Prescriptions in Arizona
Did you know that the number of opioid prescriptions written in the United States in 2017 would be enough to medicate every person in America for 24 hours a day for three whole weeks?
As if that statistic isn't alarming enough, the Centers For Disease Control recently released a report showing that, while America only accounts for 5 percent of the world's population, the United States is responsible for 80 percent of the world's opioid consumption.
Arizona has been hit particularly hard by America's opioid crisis. The Department of Health Services is so concerned that they have begun tracking this epidemic in real time. Since they began tracking this data less than eight months ago, there have already been:
- At least 1,000 opioid-related deaths
- Over 630 infants diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome
- Roughly 6,300 suspected opioid overdoses
- Almost 10,000 naloxone doses dispensed for emergency treatment
How Did This Happen?
There are many factors at play, but one of the main contributors is the sheer number of opioid prescriptions in Arizona. The CDC found that a single county in Arizona had dispensed 127.5 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents for that year, which is significantly higher than the national average for a single state. Overall, Arizona's statewide average is around 71 prescriptions per 100 people, and the national average is around 66.
It's important to note that this data only measures the number of opioid prescriptions in Arizona and not the actual number of pills prescribed or the duration of the treatment. Often, doctors will over-prescribe pills to make sure that patients are leaving as "satisfied customers," leaving people with excess medication. This is part of the reason why addictive drugs such as OxyContin and Percocet are so readily available to Arizona residents.
Another contributing factor to the opioid crisis is what the state refers to as "bad actors," or doctors who knowingly and often fraudulently over-prescribe pills in attempts to make money.
What is Arizona Doing to Combat This Crisis?
The governor and state officials have imposed tighter regulations on opioid prescriptions in Arizona, and law enforcement has been given naloxone kits to reverse overdoses in emergency situations where paramedics cannot get to the person in time.
Of course, this is only a single aspect of the solution. Many addicts start out with legitimate pain management needs but end up slipping through the cracks in the system for one reason or another. It can be especially difficult in rural areas because there may only be one pain management clinic, and many of these clinics end up closing their doors.
Although the burden should not be placed solely on those in need, it's vital for addicts to realize that there are safer, healthier ways to deal with chronic pain and other problems that often lead to addiction. Often, doctors resort to prescribing powerful drugs as a sort of blanket treatment in spite of the fact that studies have repeatedly shown that opioids often do more harm than good for most pain patients.
Instead, lawmakers want to shift treatment to alternative means. Many times, pain can be managed with non-addictive drugs, specific physical exercises, acupuncture and other lifestyle modifications. Educating the public about these non-opioid methods of managing and mitigating pain is becoming more of a priority.
What to Do If You Think You Have an Addiction Problem
Opioid addiction is very serious, but it is not something you should feel guilty or ashamed about. Whether you have willingly taken opioids for recreational purposes or have chronic pain issues, addiction can happen to anyone.
It can be frighteningly easy to overdose on opioids, especially if you are one of the many chronic pain sufferers with a dependency on these drugs. You should not try to quit opioids by yourself because the detoxing period can be difficult and dangerous to handle alone. Instead, contact a local rehabilitation center, and let them support you through a safe, medically supervised detoxification regimen.
Rehab centers are staffed by understanding, nonjudgmental medical personnel and volunteers who want to help you get clean and gain control of your life. It is incredibly hard to take opioids without developing a dependency, even if you take them exactly as prescribed.
Addiction is a difficult problem to admit to, so taking the first step in seeking help is huge. However, the opioid epidemic in Arizona can't be solved entirely with legislation; residents with addiction issues must stand up for themselves as well. Remember that you're not alone, and SpringBoard Recovery wants to help you get clean and healthy again.