Why is Addiction Rate Higher in Arizona

March 29. 2019


Drug abuse and addiction is a national epidemic and the numbers are continuing to climb. Opioids are largely to blame for the current drug crisis in the United States. After opioid prescriptions dramatically increased in the ’90s, addictions to painkillers skyrocketed. Consequently, many people have died from using these medications and their deadly street relatives, like heroin and fentanyl.

Arizona is facing a staggering number of opioid crisis. Arizona state ranks 6th highest in the nation for individuals 12+ years misusing and abusing prescription drugs. (1) The state has also the 12th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the nation. (2)

According to the recently released National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Arizona is near the top of the country when it comes to prescription drug misuse. Between 2010 and 2011, nearly 6 percent of Arizona residents over the age of 12 were abusing prescription drugs.

One may be wondering why the high increase of addiction crises within the state. The reason is not far-fetched. The class of those involved in addiction and dying from it include teenagers, parents and grandparents; it is not only related to the poor, middle class or the rich. All socio- economic background are deeply involved.



• Cocaine
• Heroin
• Marijuana
• Methamphetamines
• Prescription Drugs


Contributing Factors to high rate of addiction in Arizona:


1. “Doctor shopping”: This implies acquiring multiple prescriptions from different doctors. Some clients get prescriptions from different providers without telling them the truth on how they take their medication. Some go to the extent of using their boyfriend or girlfriend to get multiple prescription; and at will, they can take any dose they desire. Some may decide to pay out- of- pocket if their insurance does not cover such services.

2. Inadequate providers: Buprenorphine was approved for treating opioid addiction in the early 2000s.The alarming increase for opioid abuse trigger the demand for this type of medication and there are few providers to meet this demand. Clients wait for hours, days or weeks to have an appointment with a provider. Some clients who cannot wait for such a long time to get controlled substance may end returning to its use.

3. Doctors over-prescribing medication: CDC says prescribing practices are contributing to painkiller addiction and opiate overdoses. The problem of overprescribing medication is rampant in America and Prescription drug overdoses are now one of the leading causes of death in the nation. So, who’s to blame for overprescribing? The doctors? The big pharmaceutical companies? The truth is, everyone plays a role in this complex issue. Ultimately, we have the control regarding our health. We should do our research before taking any drug that’s designed to affect our mind and body. The more we know, the better we can make an informed and favorable decision about our health.


4. Genetics: The children of addicts are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction. One study looked at 231 people who were diagnosed with drug or alcohol addiction and compared them to 61 people who did not have an addiction. Then it looked at the first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or children) of those people. It discovered that if a parent has a drug or alcohol addiction, the child had an 8 times greater chance of developing an addiction. (3)

5. Drug Trafficking: A major threat to public health safety comes from the neighboring country of Mexico. Illicit opium poppy cultivation has been increasing. According to the DEA, Mexican drug trafficking organizations are additionally the largest international suppliers of all cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine that crosses the U.S. border. (4)

Arizona is directly north of the Mexican State of Sonora, a major trafficker stronghold. Along the 350 miles of border are three principal ports of entry (Nogales, Douglas, and San Luis) and three secondary ports of entry (Lukeville, Sasabe, and Naco). Most of the border area consists of inhospitable desert and steep mountain ranges, which are sparsely populated, infrequently patrolled by law enforcement, and ideal for drug smuggling. Arizona serves primarily as a drug importation and transshipment state. (5) Arizona is the second largest state that have the highest volume of drug smuggled into the country.

6. Inadequate education on the risk of prescription drug misuse.


The most common physical and behavioral signs of opiate abuse and addiction are:

• Needle marks on arms and legs from intravenous (injected) use
• Constricted, “pinpoint” pupils
• Having trouble staying awake, or falling asleep at inappropriate times
• Flushed, itchy skin
• Withdrawing from social activities that were once enjoyed
• Sudden and dramatic mood swings that seem out of character
• Impulsive behavior and decision-making
• Engaging in risky activities, such as driving under the influence
• Visiting multiple doctors in order to get more prescriptions

If you notice any of these warning signs or more in your friends, family or love ones, it calls for attention and intervention. Detecting early signs of drug abuse is the most effective way of preventing an addiction. Call us today at (623) 225-7591 or (602) 491-8015. We can help you with your recovery.



1. National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2-12.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014.
3. Merikangas, K. R., Stolar, M., Stevens, D. E., Goulet, J., et al., Familial transmission of substance use disorders. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 1998. 55(11): p. 973-9.

4. U.S. Department of State: Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. (2016). Mexico.



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