Arizona sees uptick in drug overdose deaths

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This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. Agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration say the synthetic opioid is bring trafficked over the southern border and distributed through the county, causing a spike in overdose deaths. HOGP?AP Images

Arizona saw an uptick in drug overdose deaths in the 12-month period from December 2020 to December 2021. 

The state saw a 4.39% increase in drug overdose deaths in that span; the increase was below the 15% national increase, according to a new provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The state had 2,781 overdose deaths from December 2020 to December 2021; in the previous 12 months, it had 2,664 overdose deaths.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey expressed his sympathy for those who have died of drug overdoses in recent times via Twitter. He also took the opportunity to call for strengthened border security.

“It’s heartbreaking to see the death & destruction caused by lethal drugs like fentanyl,” Ducey tweeted. “There’s no question that the increase in opioid overdoses is tied to criminal activity at our border. By neglecting the border crisis, the Biden administration is fueling an opioid epidemic.”

Nationwide, there were about 107,000 drug overdose deaths in those 12 months. 

The American Medical Association called for increased harm reduction approaches to combat the issue.

“We know the overdose epidemic is ravaging this country, and the National Center for Health Statistics tally of about 107,000 deaths in the past year confirms the problem is getting worse. Behind the numbers is thousands of grieving families,” Bobby Mukkamala, M.D., chair of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees said in a statement issued by the AMA. “We need to help patients and their families with medically proven approaches to addiction. The AMA again is asking state and federal policymakers to embrace steps that will save lives by ensuring evidence-based treatment and harm reduction to our patients.

“Among the actions we recommend: decriminalize fentanyl test strips, remove the prescription status of naloxone and make it over the counter; and hold insurers accountable for repeated, willful violations of state and federal mental health and substance use disorder parity laws.”

Republished with the permission of The Center Square.