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Experts: 90 percent of opioid addicts not getting help

Posted at 5:42 AM, Feb 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-07 11:36:55-05

The numbers are staggering and they are not slowing down. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there have been at least 875 suspected opioid deaths between June of 2016 until February of 2018. On top of that, there have been roughly 5,700 suspected opioid overdoses.

Now, a shocking new study shows the battle against the crisis starts with the basics: 90 percent of Arizona residents who need treatment are not getting the access they need.

The data comes from The Foundation for Aids Research's Opioid and Health Indicators Database. 

"The number of overdoses is increasing and surely lack of access to treatment contributes to that," said Dr. Patrice Harris

Dr. Harris is with the American Medical Associationand is the chair of the Opioid Task Force. 

Dr. Harris said these statistics are, unfortunately, not surprising. She said the stigma surrounding treatment is a portion of why we are seeing only 10 percent of people in our state seeking help.

"We should think about substance abuse disorders in the same way we think about diabetes or high blood pressure," Dr. Harris explained. "No cure. But, they are certainly treatable." 

ABC15 showed this study to The Crossroads, a non-profit substance abuse treatment facility in the Valley.

"I can't even comprehend what it would be like to have everybody seek help all at once who need it," said The Crossroads Executive Director Lee Pioske. 

Pioske said there is usually a line outside the door in the morning at their facilities. But, he knows there are plenty of other people out there. 

He said that he is proud of what our state legislators are doing to try and take action, but believes it is only a drop in the bucket. 

Pioske said the cost of treatment is another reason why they are not getting everyone inside their facility doors. 

"That part of the problem is so daunting," Pioske said. "You really have to start thinking - 'Let's get in front of it.' In other words, let's start working on prevention." 

Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill in late January that would put $10 million toward getting people access to treatment. 

But, with these numbers, prevention is what experts say is going to stop the cycle.