/ Modified jun 10, 2017 10:12 a.m.

Episode 319: Opioids in Arizona - A State of Emergency

Arizona Week: Investigating extent of opioid addiction, why people get hooked.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declared an emergency across the state this week after numbers were released showing a spike in deaths from opioid overdose.

Nearly 800 people died due to the use of opioids last year, or about two deaths every day and a 74 percent increase over the last four years, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. That’s more than half of the 1,500 drug overdose deaths in Arizona last year, the state said.

Four in 10 adults are reportedly addicted to prescription painkillers. Tucsonan Jordan Dainey said that was her entry into the use of opioids. She’s currently undergoing treatment at the Arizona Rehab Campus on Tucson’s east side, and spoke to Arizona Week about her experiences.

Nationally, every year 40,000-50,000 people die as a result of addiction to prescription pain medications and heroin and fentanyl. Internist Lenn Ditmanson has experience with addicted patients all over Southern Arizona.

Addiction affects all walks of life, and Arizona Week spoke to one local educator whose addiction started with prescription drugs and moved to heroin and fentanyl. He asked that his identity be protected due to concerns he might lose his job.

Also on the program

  • A look at DEA numbers for heroin and fentanyl in Arizona.
  • Douglas Spegman, chief clinical officer at El Rio Community Health Center, says doctors and pharmaceutical companies share some of the blame.
  • Arizona Daily Star health reporter Stephanie Innes discusses the state of emergency.
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