In 1912, Arizona became the United States’ 48th state. It is well known for its colorful natural landforms, the most recognizable of which might just be the Grand Canyon. The canyon, which was carved over thousands of years by the Colorado River, is an astonishing 6,000 feet deep and 18 miles wide. The Painted Desert to the northeast covers 160 miles of badlands with gold, copper, rust and red striped stone. Arizona is also home to the Petrified Forest National Park, Red Rock State Park, and the Sonoran Desert.
As beautiful as the Grand Canyon State is, it also has a darker side: an epidemic of alcohol and drug use in Arizona. The widespread availability of prescription painkillers, alcohol and street drugs can lead to dependency and addiction, and Arizona’s substance abuse statistics are sobering.
Prescription Drug Abuse in Arizona
According to the recently released National Survey on Drug Use and Health
, Arizona is near the top of the country when it comes to prescription drug misuse. Between 2010 and 2011, nearly 6 percent of Arizona residents over the age of 12 were abusing prescription drugs.
Opiates, prescription pain medications, and benzodiazepines are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs. State officials cite a variety of factors contributing to Arizona’s high rate of drug abuse, including:
- Inadequate education on the risk of prescription drug misuse
- Doctors over-prescribing medication
- Patients sharing or selling unused medications
While prescription drugs might seem like a safer alternative to street drugs, their abuse can lead to major problems. Arizona emergency rooms saw a 100 percent increase in opioid overdoses between 2008 and 2013, and arrests for driving under the influence have increased 99 percent.
The risks of prescription drug abuse are serious. According to the CDC, even when taken as directed, prescription opioids can lead to:
- Pain sensitivity
- Physical dependence
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Low testosterone levels
Opioid dependency or abuse can also increase the risk of addiction to heroin, which is illegal and highly dangerous. Prescription drug abuse and dependency can be complex issues, and while the state is taking a proactive approach to ending it, those who are battling addiction need a compassionate, comprehensive program with individualized treatment programs and support.
Alcohol Abuse Statistics
A glass of wine to end a busy day or a celebratory drink with friends is common and considered pretty benign. When does drinking stop being social and start being a problem? In Arizona, problem drinking might be more common than many people realize. The Arizona Department of Health Services defines binge drinking as drinking five or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion on one day.
According to a recent CDC study
, the state has a serious binge drinking problem especially for non-Hispanic white males between 35 and 65. In 2013, 2.5 percent of all ER visits in the state and almost 5 percent of hospitalizations were related to binge drinking.
While often seen as a party behavior, binge drinking might be more strongly correlated with self-medicating for things like marital stress, depression and other common psychiatric issues. As many as 13 percent of Arizona residents
reportedly binge drink, but others may be alcohol dependent as well, which means that they rely heavily on alcohol either physically or psychologically.
When drinking becomes a problem or interferes with other aspects of a person’s life, it is time to get help. Alcohol abuse
can lead to many short- and long-term physical and emotional problems, including:
- Alcohol poisoning
- High blood pressure
- Intimate partner violence and sexual violence
- Pregnancy complications
- An increased risk of accidents and injuries
- Social and relationship problems
Street Drugs and Substance Abuse Statistics
Most people associate street drugs with substance abuse, and it is true that street drugs are both commonly abused and dangerous substances. In Arizona, they are also frighteningly easy to access.
They often include:
- Cocaine, which was responsible for more than 1,200 hospital admissions in Maricopa County alone in 2013
- Marijuana and cannabis, which constitutes nearly a third of all drug reports by NFLIS Laboratories
- Heroin, which is heavily trafficked along the border
- Methamphetamine, which is related to a sharp increase in amphetamine-related hospital admission of patients in their 20s
Street drugs can affect users in many ways. Most can alter thinking and increase the risk of injury or accidents, and they can lead to serious health consequences especially for pregnant women. Even over-the-counter medications, such as dextromethorphan, can cause altered thinking when abused. Additionally, many people combine medications or drugs, which can lead to respiratory depression and other potentially dangerous health problems.
Substance Abuse Rehabilitation in Arizona
Those who are struggling with physical or emotional dependence on drugs or alcohol can find success with the right support system. Many substance abuse programs are available in Arizona. The most successful programs are those that recognize that each patient is an individual and needs a personalized, comprehensive treatment plan that addresses not just the addiction but also underlying issues that contributed to or caused the addiction, according to the NIH
Successful programs also share certain other characteristics, including:
- Counseling and behavioral therapy
- Medical detox and non-addictive medication as necessary
- Infectious disease testing and treatment as needed
- Inpatient treatment options
- Long-term follow-up care
Lakeview Health offers personalized substance abuse programs for those who are battling addictions directly as well as their families. Both residential and outpatient programs are available, including recovery coaching to help patients continue their healing journey after discharge. Call today to learn more.