TEMPE, AZ – Over 91 Americans die every day from opioid overdose, which includes prescription drugs and heroine, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Just in Arizona alone, there are over 2 opioid overdose related deaths daily, according to Arizona Department of Health Services.
From only June 15th to today, there have been over 3,000 opioid overdoses in Arizona, and of those 14% ended fatally.
Of those overdoses, 2/3 were woman, and 3/5 were men.
Arizona’s Department of Health Services is urging health care prescribers to choose other methods of pain killers and people within the medical field to get educated on how to help addicted individuals.
Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled since 1999, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Due to the extreme rise in deaths relating to this drug, an underground clean needle organization was created – Shot in the Dark Arizona.
In the city of Tempe, 14 people per 100,000 died of opioid overdoses in 2016.
The organization, which solely relies on volunteers, works to bring clean needles, syringes, and medical care that they need.
The act itself is not illegal, but possessing or dispersing drug paraphernalia is a felony in the state of Arizona.
The groups goal is not to cure the people, although it is a wish of all volunteers, but to reduce the damage done when using dirty needles.
Shot in the Dark has been around for years, but has not advertised or promoted, due to the negative stigma of drug users.
The problem is that the public forgets that these addicts are still human, still needing medical attention, and still going to be addicted. “We as a community, need to know how to help the addicted in any way that we can so we can not only clean up their lives, but clean up our city,” a spokesperson from Shot in The Dark Arizona said.
Many people, even within the medical field, are unaware to treat or help someone with an opioid addiction.
But now, thanks to organizations like Shot in the Dark, 1,200 first responders are now trained to handle, carry, and administer naloxone, the overdose reversal drug.
Since June 15, over 2,000 doses of naloxone have been dispersed outside of the hospital by medical field personnel.
Over 22% of individuals who fatally overdosed had received an opioid prescription within the past two months.
And over 20% of fatal opioid overdoses involved prescription drugs only.
“The amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, yet there had not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans reported,” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Beating the opioid epidemic involves meeting the needs of those addicted. According to the CDC, people who have access to programs like Shot in the Dark, are five times more likely to receive treatment.