Tag Archives: Opioid overdoses in Arizona

Arizona Naloxone Laws, Arizona Overdose Deaths

How Arizona Naloxone Laws Can Help Reduce Arizona Overdose Deaths

How Arizona Naloxone Laws Can Help Reduce Arizona Overdose Deaths

In 2016, more Americans died from opioid use than from car crashes, gunshot wounds or breast cancer. There were close to 1,500 Arizona overdose deaths that year, and around half were attributed to opioids. That was a 74 percent increase over the previous four years. Hopefully, Arizona naloxone laws will save lives and convince opioid abusers to seek help.

What Are Opioids, and How Do Overdoses Occur?

Opioids are closely related to morphine, an organic substance found in opium poppy plants. This drug family includes heroin, fentanyl, methadone and a host of prescription painkillers.

Opioids ease pain, relax the body and provide a sense of well-being. That warm, fuzzy feeling appeals to people from all walks of life, and many find themselves hopelessly addicted long after their pain has subsided.

Drugs like heroin and oxycodone calm the body by slowing respiratory function. If opioid levels are too high, breathing might stop altogether. Fatal overdose is the result of respiratory failure.

What Is Naloxone?

Naloxone, branded as Narcan, is a non-addictive, emergency-response drug that reverses opioid overdose. The only side effects for someone who took opioids are severe withdrawal symptoms. There is no effect at all if there are no opioids present in the body.

Naloxone is delivered through an intramuscular injection or a nasal spray.

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arizona overdose, arizona naloxone laws

Arizona Naloxone Laws

In the past, only doctors or medical emergency personnel could administer naloxone. However, Arizona has recently embraced a concept known as harm reduction. The idea is to accept drug use as a part of our world and work to minimize its damage.

Participants in this movement encourage abstinence and try to get substance abusers into recovery. Meanwhile, though, they stress the importance of using clean needles, refraining from risky sexual behavior and avoiding overdose. If you can’t beat them, educate them.

In May 2016, Arizona legislators passed House Bill 2355. In a nutshell, the statute puts naloxone directly into the hands of opioid abusers, their friends, their family members or anyone in the community.

The training required to administer naloxone takes about an hour. Prescribing doctors and individuals who give the medication are protected from certain liabilities.

Naloxone kits range in price from $20 per dose for the generic version to around $70 per dose for Narcan. Kits are easily obtained from a doctor, and insurance covers the cost. Pharmacies can sell it over the counter, but insurance companies may not pay for it.

Many community organizations, such as Sonoran Prevention Works, are giving kits away. SPW furnished around 100,000 doses between January and September 2018.

Who Uses All Those Doses?

Ten thousand sounds like a lot until you think of naloxone as a form of first aid.

Someone who ingests a street drug that happens to be laced with fentanyl — which is up to 100 times more potent than morphine — may not make it to the hospital.

The painkillers lying around in ordinary households are a leading cause of accidental overdose, and it’s estimated that up to 95 percent of Arizonans keep them on hand. An elderly man in chronic pain may lose track of how many pills he’s taken. A housewife might try to enhance the effects of hydrocodone with a couple of glasses of wine. Someone fresh out of rehab or jail may feel safe taking just one Vicodin, but tolerance is at dangerously low levels. Sadly, painkillers sometimes fall into the hands of innocent toddlers and curious teenagers.

As they say, prevention is the best medicine. If you legitimately need pain medication, thoroughly discuss your physical and mental health history with your doctor. Avoid opioids if addiction runs in your family or if you struggle with depression, drug abuse or alcohol abuse. If you take opioids, follow the prescribed dosage to the letter. Never mix them with alcohol or benzodiazepine sleep aids like Ativan, Xanax or Valium.

It’s important to remember to lock up your meds and don’t offer them to friends or family members. Stop taking them when your pain subsides and return leftovers to the pharmacy for disposal.

Signs of Opioid Overdose

Overdose can occur immediately or up to three hours after the last dose. Never assume that you, a friend or a relative will sleep it off and pull through.

These telltale signs indicate a life-threatening emergency:

  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Slow breathing or failure to breathe
  • Failure to respond
  • Slow heart rate or low blood pressure
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Tiny pupils
  • Bluish nails and lips

If these are evident, administer naloxone and call 911. If you were mistaken about the overdose, the drug won’t do any harm.

A Better Solution for Opioid Overdoses and Opioid Addiction

No one argues that naloxone saves lives. The rate of Arizona overdose deaths is expected to decline dramatically because of it. As of June 2018, Arizona law enforcement officers had administered 549 doses of naloxone. All but nine of the people who had overdosed survived.

However, naloxone is hardly a solution to the opioid crisis. Having first aid for an emergency is fine, but that shouldn’t encourage anyone to keep using.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that even the smartest drugs can’t cure. It ruins relationships, careers and reputations. It causes financial hardships and legal problems. It destroys families.

If you or someone you love is in the grip of addiction, caring professional help is the only solution. Call Desert Cove Recovery now to speak with an experienced counselor. We’re committed to helping you reclaim your life.

opioid overdoses in az organ transplants

Increases in Opioid Overdoses in Arizona Lead to Spike in Organ Donations

Increases in Opioid Overdoses in Arizona Lead to Spike in Organ Donations

In recent years, drug and opioid overdoses in Arizona have steadily risen. Interestingly enough, so have organ donations. Seeking help from an opioid addiction treatment center today can help lower your risk of becoming another statistic.

So, What is the Connection?

It was once thought that harvesting organs from an individual who suffered from an opioid or drug addiction while they were alive, held too many risks for the patient who would receive said organs. However, researchers have confirmed through recent studies that prove organs from drug-addicted individuals have almost the same transplant success rates as organs from overall healthy individuals.

With the recent spike in opioid-related deaths, there has also been a spike in organ donations, creating a tragic but hopeful realization.  With the increase of overdose deaths, comes the increase of new life opportunities to patients waiting for new organs.

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opioid overdoses in arizona and organ transplants

If There is So Much Hope Found in These Studies, Why is This Seemingly Taboo?

First off, the opioid epidemic is a newer issue facing, not only in Arizona, but The United States as a whole. A recent study done by investigators at the University of Utah Health found that currently 110,000 people across the United States are lingering on organ transplant waiting lists. However, the increase in the opioid epidemic has paved the way for unexpected opportunities in increases of organ availability for donation.

The Annals of Medicine found that a major rise of organ donors who’s death occurred due to an overdose rose up to 13.4% in 2017, compared to the meager 1.1% that it was at in 2000. In Arizona alone, opioid-related deaths have seen a 74 percent increase in the last four years. These numbers suggests that with the rise in organ donations from drug-related overdoses, it could significantly improve our country’s organ shortage. Unfortunately, it also shows that there were a great many organs from opioid overdoses in Arizona that went unused before 2017, which could have saved numerous lives.

While these statistics are encouraging, there is a big question that remains.

Are These Organs Safe to Use For Transplants?

Up until recent years, it was not common practice for medical professionals to accept the use of organs from drug-induced deaths, as there were legitimate concerns for the success of the transplant and the patient who received it.

During an overdose, an individual can experience a drop in blood pressure, which reduces the supply of oxygen and holds the potential to affect the organs negatively. There have also been, and still are, potential risks of infection such as hepatitis C. Although there can be a slightly higher risk of those organs having hepatitis C, at only a 30% risk, it still scares off both medical professionals and patients. Recipients of these donors have shown through testing that patient and graft survival rates remain within the same percentage as those recipients who received organs from trauma or medical deaths.

Dr. Christine Durand from Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore has done numerous studies on this topic and states that; “While it is natural for patients to be concerned when they hear that an organ has an increased risk of infection, the tests for the disease are so effective that the risk is low — for HIV, it is around one in 10 000. For hepatitis C, there is a cure available to treat the recipient if an infection is passed on.”

While these studies were created to better understand the effects these specific types of transplants can have on the receiver, they also stand to offer more insight and knowledge for the patient. Even though having an organ transplant surgery is often necessary to continue having a quality of life, it can still be a daunting thing for any patient to consider. The topic can weigh even heavier when the fear of receiving an organ from a former drug user could mean. The United Network for Organ Sharing policy requires that patients be fully aware of any circumstances of potentially higher risk donations so they can best decide whether or not to accept it.

Opioid Addiction Treatment Can Help Prolong Your Life

While the spike in organ transplants is good news, the method to which they have become so readily available is not. An organ comes with a story unique and all its own. This new organ could hold the potential for a fresh start, a promise for a continued journey, and the hope of a healthy and happy life.

But, even before those organs are given to someone else, the person struggling with addiction has options available to them so that they don’t become another number in these staggering statistics.

If opioid addiction is prevalent in an individual’s life, they have ways to begin moving forward and beginning recovery today. There are numerous opioid addiction treatment centers within Arizona that offer a multitude of treatment options and programs. Don’t let the numbers and addiction dictate the journey. Make the decision for a chance at a new beginning today by calling Desert Cove Recovery.