Arizona's Suspected Opioid Overdoses, Deaths Rise

Published: Monday, July 3, 2017 - 5:35pm
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The second set of weekly data on the opioid epidemic in Arizona shows a spike in the number of suspected overdoses and deaths, though officials warn it’s too early to tell if the state is experiencing a real increase.

The number of suspected opioid overdoses jumped from 191 to 253, which is an increase of about 33 percent from one week to the next. The number of suspected opioid overdose deaths also rose from 15 to 21, which is a 40 percent increase.

“I think these numbers continue to be alarming,” said Dr. Cara Christ director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.

State officials expected an increase as more police and health-care providers start reporting opioid data to the state.

“If these numbers are all truly overdoses and deaths that are associated with opioids, this would put us on track to be higher than our highest year ever,” Christ said.

Arizona’s highest year ever was 2016, when opioids killed an average of two people every day.

“At at this point, with only two weeks of data, it’s really hard to say whether it’s a true increase, or whether it’s just an artifact of a new reporting system,” Christ said.

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