Yes Arizona. There is a serious opioid problem in the state. Yes, the Governor, and the Department of Health Services are doing more than taking it seriously. They are taking serious action to fight the growing crisis.
On June 5, 2017, Governor Doug Ducey acted in declaring a state emergency. This was far more than a news making event. It created additional resources and focus so his administration could get to work on tackling the opioid problem.
As a result, the Arizona Department of Health Services just released a 90-page Opioid Action Plan. You can see the complete report here. The report states how AZDHS staff have dedicated over 7,000 hours on the problem since the governor’s emergency declaration. It gives proof to the major effort required to initiate and complete the department’s comprehensive action plan.
The plan calls for various efforts to minimize and restrict access to prescription pain medications. It includes new opioid prescribing guidelines. These changes would apply to doctors as well as pharmacists. It also recommends an increase in public resources for treating people with addictions, and better educating the general public on the dangers of opioid use.
Here are some specific problems the AZDHS opioid action plan addresses:
– Patients are prescribed too many pills.
– Patients are prescribed too high doses.
– Fraudulent purchases because paper prescriptions are easily forged.
– Arizonans may not understand the dangers of opioids.
– Law enforcement has difficulty enforcing illegal prescribing and dispensing.
Under you’re living under a rock the size of Cathedral Rock in Sedona, you’ve probably heard the statistic of 790 known deaths in Arizona last year because of opioid abuse. The number of more than two per day is alarming. It represents a 74% increase since 2012. Still, the problem continues.
In just the past two and half months, the AZDHS report shows there were 2,361 opioid overdoses. Opioid use is suspected in the deaths of another 280 Arizonans. In just the week of June 15-22, AZDHS reports there were 191 possible opioid related overdoses, and 15 deaths. Yes Arizona. We have to do something to help fix this problem.