Between June 19th and June 26th there were 191 opioid overdoses resulting in 15 deaths in Arizona. These staggering numbers provide a snapshot of of a nationwide epidemic that is hitting The Grand Canyon State especially hard. Opioid deaths rose 16% last year in Arizona, prompting Governor Ducey to recently declare the opioid crisis a statewide public health emergency. This declaration allows the state Department of Health Services to increase the availability of naloxone (also known as Narcan), an injection/nasal spray that can save the life of someone that is overdosing. It will also allow for the development of new guidelines for the prescription of opioids, as well as increase health care provider education and expand access to addiction treatment. The department has even started a real time opioid statistics tracker on their website to demonstrate the gravity of the problem.
790 people in Arizona died of opioid overdoses in 2016, which is more than two per day. Prescription opioids were responsible for 482 of these deaths. Strong opioid pain medication has been over-prescribed for decades due to a number of factors, most of which revolve around money. We are now seeing the tragic consequences of putting profits over people play out across the country. SCNM's Dr. Forrest Beck told us, ""This is a critical time in medical history to change the existing methods used to treat pain. Opioids are simply not long-term solutions to pain and they come with disastrous consequences including death, addiction, and the tearing apart of our communities. As a country we need to look at alternative options that are non-surgical, non-addictive, natural, and treat the causes of pain without the destructive consequences. Medical providers need to wake up and quit doing business as usual if they want to see a different outcome." Natural pain relief options such as acupuncture, regenerative injection therapy, physical manipulation, and many others can and should be utilized before the use of opioids. These treatments are highly effective in treating pain and do not carry the risks of addictive narcotics.
SCNM President Dr. Paul Mittman is especially passionate about reversing the tide on the opioid epidemic. You can read his thoughts on the matter here.
Check out our series on the opioid crisis by clicking below.