Opioid Addiction in Tucson
Tucson is Arizona’s second-largest city and is comprised of many transplant residents thanks to a variety of colleges and the University of Arizona. This mix of demographics, coupled with Tucson’s categorization as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, has resulted in high substance abuse and addiction rates for the city (making it the 8th worst state for drug problems and 6th highest in the nation for the abuse of prescription drugs).
Approximately 6% of the Tucson population specifically abuses prescription medications—a high figure compared to the 4.5% national average. One in four Arizona teens prescribed opioids have abused the medication. Subsequently, drug overdose deaths in the city have outnumbered motor vehicle deaths since 2007, with the main cause of death being linked to morphine, heroin, or oxycodone.
“It’s easy to distribute heroin to California, Texas, and Colorado from Tucson. Smugglers bring it to the largest community close to the border because it’s easier for them to disappear.”
Drug trafficking organizations (or DTOs) have flooded the state with opioids like heroin; specifically cheaper, more dangerous versions like black tar heroin and China White (a “designer drug” made from the synthetic opioid fentanyl). In 2013, the DEA stated the amount of heroin seized at the southwest border between US and Mexico had increased by 232% from 2008. The DEA recovered 1,200 pounds of heroin in Arizona alone in 2015. Individuals with heroin addictions generally start with prescription opioid dependencies due to the addictiveness of their prescriptions. The American Society of Addiction Medicine expects 75% of those suffering from opioid addiction will transition to heroin.
Opioid Overdose in Tucson
While prescription opioid abuse is a nationwide threat, Tucson especially suffers from startlingly high rates of opioid overdose and death. The state ranks fifth in the number of opioid prescriptions in the US, resulting in the widespread abuse of painkillers. From 2009 to 2013, Tucson’s Pima County had an overdose rate almost twice as high as any other county in the state. In 2015, Arizona ranked 10th in rates of drug overdose (with the majority of overdoses caused by prescription opioids like OxyContin, which contributed to one-third of those deaths). On average, one Arizonan dies a day due to drug overdose. Unfortunately, untreated addiction leads to increasing rates of overdose, with an increase of 17% from 2014 to 2015 in Pima County.
Adolescent Experimentation with Drugs in Tucson
As more illicit substances are trafficked through the state each year, more needs to be done to protect young people from them. Arizona tied for eighth-highest in the US for overdose deaths among teens. Arizona also ranked higher than the national average in every category pertaining to experimentation with illegal substances among high school students. Seventeen percent of Pima County high school seniors had reported using prescription painkillers without doctor’s orders, higher than even the state’s average of 15%.
One of the best ways to prevent opioid addictions later in life is to educate middle and high school-age teens on the dangers of addiction. In 2017, $3 million went to Arizona high schools to combat the rising numbers of drug use among teens. One in five 12th-graders in Pima County self-reported having tried opioids at least once, 48% have tried marijuana, and 72% have had an entire serving of alcohol. The majority of these substances were provided by friends, according to respondents.
Get Answers to Your Questions
Treatment for Drug Abuse in Tucson
Unsupervised detox is generally not recommended for those suffering from intense addictions or from opioid addiction as side effects such as seizures can occur. Medically-trained staff are better able to handle patients suffering withdrawal and can greatly increase comfortability throughout the process for the individual.
Regrettably, Arizona ranks in the top 5 states for the percent of adults with unmet drug treatment needs, though research within the state has shown that drug treatment can reduce the rate of recidivism by half. While Pima County does not directly provide treatment services, the Tucson government makes “substantial investments in improving the availability and accessibility of behavioral health care and by involvement in many community initiatives that seek to improve the quality of care” in the Tucson community and for its most vulnerable citizens. Accordingly, there are a number of private and public options for those seeking treatment within their city.
Get Help During COVID-19
With just 30 days at a rehab center, you can get clean and sober, start therapy, join a support group, and learn ways to manage your cravings.
Traveling for Rehab
Oftentimes, individuals will find greater success in recovery when they travel away from home for rehabilitation. When you travel for rehab, you remove yourself from everyday stressors that can impede your journey to recovery. It also gives you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the treatment process and focus on healing. If you’re ready to get started on the road to recovery, contact a treatment provider now.