Arizona suffered 280 overdose deaths between mid June and August this year, putting the state on track to nearly double last year’s death rate, according the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).
The ADHS findings come after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency in June to address the state’s growing opioid crisis. The state’s heroin deaths have tripled since 2012, and its total opioid deaths have skyrocketed 74 percent, with 790 overdose deaths in 2016. This summer’s numbers are still preliminary, however, and the ADHS said it will not be able to report definitive numbers until it receives official cause of death reports, the Associated Press reported.
The state’s head health official, Dr. Cara Christ, is recommending that the state ban paper opioid prescriptions and prevent doctors from giving out opioids themselves.
“We’re eliminating the risk of people becoming opioid-use dependent, while not taking the medication away from those who are currently on them and truly need them,” Christ told the Arizona Daily Star. (RELATED: Nearly 80 Percent Of Addicts Stay On Drugs After Overdosing)
Christ’s goal is to drop overdose deaths to 592 by 2020, and she claims that the most effective method is going after prescriptions. Before Ducey declared a state of emergency, he issued an executive order preventing doctors from prescribing more than seven days worth of opioids, a limit which Christ says is still more than patients need.
“Most people, according to the CDC and Arizona prescribing guidelines, usually need about three days after an acute injury or surgery,” Christ said. “This gives an additional couple of days, with the opportunity for people to go back.
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