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Mon, Aug. 19

Survey: Arizona in Top 10 states for drug abuse

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Rankings of states’ drug abuse problems

District of Columbia 1

Vermont 2

Colorado 3

Delaware 4

Rhode Island 5

Oregon 6

Connecticut 7

Arizona 8

Massachusetts 9

Michigan 10

A study by WalletHub.com found that Arizona has the eighth-highest rate of drug abuse among all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The survey, titled “Drug Use by State: 2017’s Problem Areas,” examined 15 data points, tallied them up, and came up with rankings. Some important findings:

• Arizona is fourth highest in the percentage of adults that needed (but didn’t receive) treatment for illicit drug use in the past year;

• Arizona is 22nd in the number of substance abuse treatment facilities per 100,000 people using illicit drugs.

Larry Green, the CEO at West Yavapai Guidance Clinic, said, “We are committed to helping people onto the road to recovery but, make no mistake, it is hard work and someone must be ready to make those life changes.

“We operate a 23-bed Substance Abuse Disorder Residential Treatment Unit in Prescott. The unit is at or near capacity every day. We also operate outpatient Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment for anyone that is eligible and meets the criteria for treatment,” Green added.

• Our state is 10th highest in the percentage of teenagers who used illicit drugs in the past month;

“Arizona’s youth substance use is higher than the national average and Yavapai County youth use is above the state average,” MATFORCE Executive Director Merilee Fowler said.

“The good news,” Fowler said, “is, according to the Arizona Youth Survey, youth use and abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs have significantly reduced.”

That survey, which polled more than 57,000 high school students, found that prescription drug use within 30 days of taking the survey was at the lowest level for each grade in the past decade.

And, in 2016, 22.4 percent of Arizona youth reported using alcohol at least once in the previous 30 days. That’s down from 24.1 percent in 2014, and 28.1 percent in 2012.

• Arizona has the third highest percentage of “teenagers who were offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property.”

That has Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Joe Howard worried.

“That’s very concerning data,” Howard said. “Drugs and alcohol prevention have been a focus for schools for many years.

“We are fortunate to have a community that has banded together to help fight this nationwide problem that certainly has an effect on our community,” he said.

• Arizona is 26th — right about the middle — in number of opioid prescriptions per 100 people, at 82.4.

“Arizona is taking innovative steps to address the opioid abuse problem and we are making progress,” Fowler said. “The state is working to increase access to Naloxone and Medicated Assisted Treatment. In Yavapai County I am excited that the (West Yavapai Guidance Clinic) Crisis Stabilization Unit will soon be open and that Terros is now providing mobile crisis teams.”

• We are 24th — again, about the middle of the list — in the number of drug arrests per 1,000 residents: 4.87.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said, “There is a clear connection between drug use and crime.

Many of our state’s children who are in foster care are there because their drug-using parents neglected or abused them.

“Prevention is the best course of action,” she said. “Dealing with the consequences of drug use — such as impaired drivers on our roadways, growing numbers of kids in foster care, the costs of addiction and treatment, fatal overdoses, teenagers who never reach their full potential, and the impact on our criminal justice system — is expensive.

“Often, the consequences are irreversible.”

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