Pima County Grapples with Record Overdose Deaths, Fentanyl Crisis

Pima County, Arizona, reported a record 500+ overdose deaths in 2023, with 309 linked to fentanyl. The opioid crisis disproportionately affected seniors aged 60-69, with 103 deaths in 2023.

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Nitish Verma
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Pima County Grapples with Record Overdose Deaths, Fentanyl Crisis

Pima County Grapples with Record Overdose Deaths, Fentanyl Crisis

In 2023, Pima County, Arizona, experienced its worst year for overdoses, with a staggering 500+ deaths. Of these, 309 were linked to the potent opioid fentanyl. A disturbing trend emerged, with a significant surge in overdose-related deaths among seniors aged 60-69, resulting in 103 deaths in 2023.

Why this matters: The opioid crisis, particularly the rise of fentanyl, has far-reaching consequences for public health, social services, and law enforcement, necessitating a comprehensive response to address the root causes and mitigate its impact. If left unchecked, the crisis could lead to increased healthcare costs, strained resources, and a higher mortality rate.

These alarming statistics highlight the severity of the opioid crisis in Pima County, with fentanyl being a major contributor to the rising number of overdose deaths. The disproportionate impact on seniors aged 60-69 is a particularly concerning trend that warrants further attention and action.

Pima County's overdose crisis mirrors a broader national trend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 111,355 deaths due to overdose in 2023, nearly 3,500 more than the 107,941 reported in 2022. In Missouri, from January to June 2023, 1,015 people lost their lives due to a drug overdose, with 70% of those deaths involving fentanyl.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is a growing concern nationwide. Just 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal, depending on a person's body size, tolerance, and past usage. The International Journal of Drug Policy reported that "115 million pills containing illicit fentanyl were seized by law enforcement in 2023, compared to over 71 million in 2022." set, death

In response to the crisis, the Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter naloxone (Narcan) in March 2023, which is used to reverse opioid overdoses and is available in stores and online. The Columbia/Boone County Department of Health offers Narcan for free, and Time 2 Act Missouri reported that EMS distributed Narcan 2,996 times in 2022.

As Pima County grapples with the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic, the record-high overdose deaths in 2023 serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need for comprehensive solutions. With fentanyl playing a significant role in the crisis and seniors being disproportionately affected, targeted interventions and increased access to life-saving medications like naloxone are crucial steps in addressing this public health emergency.

Key Takeaways

  • Pima County, AZ saw 500+ overdose deaths in 2023, with 309 linked to fentanyl.
  • Seniors aged 60-69 were disproportionately affected, with 103 deaths in 2023.
  • Fentanyl is a major contributor to the opioid crisis, with 2mg being potentially lethal.
  • Naloxone (Narcan) is now available over-the-counter to reverse opioid overdoses.
  • Comprehensive solutions and targeted interventions are needed to address the crisis.