In 2007, almost the same number of people died from a drug overdose as in car accidents in Arizona. Since then the number of drug related fatalities has decreased in proportion to the number of people who have sought treatment for drug abuse or addiction it is plain to see that intervention and treatment has been successful in helping to reduce the trafficking and use of drugs in Arizona. Almost 19,000 people were admitted to treatment programs, most of the treatment was for alcohol addiction, marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine use. The two drugs that are seeing a rise in use are alcohol and heroin which come with their own problems that must be dealt with.
Why is alcohol abuse on the rise in Arizona?
Arizona has a high student population and demographic between the ages of 24 to 35. In both of these groups there has been an increase in the instances of binge drinking that has led to alcohol abuse treatment in an addiction facility, or in an emergency medical treatment facility. There has also been a steady use rate of marijuana that appears to be statistically tied to the rising use of heroin among these age groups. Studies are concluding that in Arizona, alcohol and marijuana use combined are gateway drugs for heroin and cocaine..
Where are the drugs coming from?
Most of the drugs that are coming into Arizona are from California, Texas and Mexico. There is a significant trafficking route that exists between El Paso and Los Angeles that passes through Albuquerque, New Mexico and through the major cities of Arizona. The drug traffic is not tied to illegal immigration but is primarily moved by legal citizens over the road or by plane.
What is the impact on Arizona of illegal drugs?
The cost of illegal drugs goes beyond the damage it can cost an individual. There were almost 19,000 treated for drug abuse and addiction in Arizona last year. Over 61% of those enrolled were male. Given that the majority of the accidents involved intoxicants in some form, and that almost all alcohol related vehicular deaths also had the presence of another drug involved the cost to the community and the municipalities is great. What may start as one individual’s choice can have a cost impact that can affect everyone in a given area. In fact, 7 of the 10 top causes of death in Arizona in the past 3 years were alcohol related via accident, poisoning or chronic health conditions caused by long term alcohol abuse.
While there is statistical evidence that illegal pharmaceutical drug abuse is on the rise, it is not at a significant percentage to be deemed an epidemic. The primary demographics that are seeing use are children ages 14 to 18, and young adults aged 22 through 28. Both of these age groups tend to access pharmaceuticals in the home environment which then leads to them seeking out illegal drugs on the street. Most people shift from the pharmaceuticals to more common illegal drugs due to the increased regulation of the drugs and the higher price of the drugs on the illegal market. Statewide education programs are also credited with helping to contain this problem. Unfortunately, statistics show that it is probably the easier and cheaper drug availability that is preventing pharmaceuticals from becoming a main drug of choice. Arizona is following the national trend in increasing regulations and tracking on prescription pharmaceuticals in an effort to continue preventing their abuse from becoming an epidemic.
Are drugs getting better or worse in Arizona?
There has been a decline in the number of drug related accidents, deaths and incidents in Arizona between 2001 and 2011, along with a rise in people registered for treatment that is a good indicator that the drug problem is getting better. The large youth and young adult population in Arizona means that there is more experimentation in this state then in any of the neighboring states without a corresponding demographic. Despite fears that the tendency towards experimentation would then bring about a rush of illegal drugs to the street, most of what has happened is an explosion in abuse of legal substances such as alcohol. Alcohol abuse and addiction is the number one drug of concern in Arizona and it is most concerning that while use has dropped off with people over 40, it is on the rise in those under 35.