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Data: Fentanyl overdose deaths in Arizona

Posted at 8:46 PM, Oct 05, 2022

Drug overdose deaths are increasing across Arizona, and fentanyl is a big reason for it.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine burst onto the illicit drug market in 2013. The CDC says that 150 people die every day from overdosing on fentanyl and other related synthetic opioids.

Provisional data from the CDC shows that drug overdose deaths in Arizona have been on a continued upward trend since 2017. A spike in overdose deaths began in April 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During 2022 overdose deaths rose as high as 41% in year-over-year data published monthly. The most recent data reports that the state had 2,723 overdose deaths from April 2021 to April 2022.

Fentanyl is a major contributor to these deaths. In 2017 when data collection began fentanyl only accounted for about 13% of overdose deaths. By last April, the provisional data estimates that fentanyl and other synthetic opioid overdose deaths increased to 65%. During the same time, heroin overdose deaths declined steadily.

Tends are likely to continue. The Arizona Department of Health Services publishes an opioid dashboard that includes statistics on law enforcement encounters involving drug overdoses. There has been a 15% increase in law enforcement or EMS responses to overdoses in Arizona from January to August this year compared to the same time period last year. Law enforcement or EMS personnel have responded to 7,312 overdose situations this year.

When looking at who is the most impacted Maricopa County publishes death rate demographics. It includes all overdoses, but gentanyl makes up most overdose deaths in the county. In 2021 the overdose death rate for men was 2.5 times higher than it was for women. The county also reports that overdose death rates increased for all ethnicities in 2021 compared to 2019 except Asian Americans. Native Americans had the largest increase with death rates doubling between 2019 and 2021.