The city of Phoenix, Arizona may bring to mind pictures of desert plains and nightlife, but for over 1.6 million people who live there1, it’s also a city that deals with drug crime and substance abuse.
Read on to learn more about:
- The factors that may influence drug and alcohol use in Phoenix, AZ.
- Alcohol use throughout the state, and how universities in Phoenix affect overall alcohol consumption.
- How mental health disorders affects people in Phoenix and the state.
- Where and how you can find a quality addiction treatment facility.
Factors Influencing Drug Use in Phoenix
Several aspects influence substance use in Phoenix, including age and socioeconomic status.
Young people in particular, both in Arizona and nationwide, are more likely to succumb to peer pressure and try substances they otherwise wouldn’t try. In Phoenix specifically, access to drugs is more plentiful with the drug trade in full swing across the border state.
They are also one of the biggest consumers of prescription drugs, with over 5,700 young people in the U.S. using prescription pain relievers without a doctor’s guidance for the first time in 2014.2 Over 1,000 youths died from prescription drug overdoses in 2017 across the country.3
Of course, age isn’t the only factor that influences substance abuse.
Individuals who are struggling to get by in Phoenix’s recovering, but still tough economy may be more likely to engage in drug and alcohol abuse, too. As of October 2019, the unemployment rate in Phoenix was 4.1%, compared to the national rate of 3.6%.4
That number has dropped considerably from being just over 10% in 2010, but it’s still higher than the national average.4 As of 2103, 1 in 6 unemployed people engage in drug or alcohol abuse, hinting that higher unemployment rates often lead to increased substance abuse in an area.5
Drug Overdoses in Arizona
Drug overdoses—specifically opioid overdoses—kill 130 Americans every day.6 Opioid-involved deaths have become especially common, with the number totaling 928 in 2017, a 76% increase from 2013. There was also a major spike in the number of heroin-involved deaths during that five-year period, increasing from 101 to 334.7
Drug-Related Crime in Phoenix
Some of the robberies and home invasions that occur in Phoenix are linked to drug-related activities in the area. Drug crimes can often involve additional serious offenses including homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes.
The strongest penalties apply to individuals caught trafficking drugs. Possession of less than 2 pounds of marijuana can still put individuals in jail for up for two years and impose a $150,000 fine. The prison sentence can be extended to as much as 12.5 years for individuals who traffic or sell pot in the state.8
Being convicted of possessing methamphetamine or equipment for manufacturing or transporting it comes with significantly bigger penalties, with a minimum of a 5-year prison sentence and a maximum sentence of 15 years, explains Phoenix-based attorney Suzuki Law Offices.10
If a person was previously convicted of a similar drug crime, the sentence could be up to 20 years. And the majority of individuals who are prosecuted by the Drug Enforcement Bureau end up serving time at just under 70%, says the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.11
Arizona & Alcohol
Alcohol consumption is high in Arizona, with over 50% of residents of the state drinking alcohol over a month’s time.12 Between 2010 and 2012, the state of Arizona had the 4th highest rate of death due to alcohol poisoning.13
The most recent driving under the influence (DUI) information comes from 2015, and shows that in Arizona:14
- Is ranked 11th in DUI arrests, clocking in at 22,367 that year.
- There were 4,651 alcohol related car crashes—47% of which resulted in injury or death.
- There were 272 fatalities related to driving under the influence—30.46% of all car accidents in the state.
Consuming problematic levels of alcohol can also take a toll on several vital areas of the body, including the brain, by interfering with communication pathways; the heart by creating an irregular beat and high blood pressure; and the pancreas by producing toxic substances that can potentially lead to pancreatitis.15
Phoenix, AZ Alcohol Use
In Phoenix, college students make up a significant portion of the population. Increased rates of substance abuse, college parties, and late-night club scenes set the stage for binge drinking on a regular basis among undergrads. In the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 34.8% of full-time students admitted to binge drinking.16
In 2010, 23% of adult Phoenix residents had binged alcohol in the past month.17
One of the biggest risks that come with drinking heavily or binging on booze is death. In 2013, 36,427 people lost their lives to alcohol-related liver disease in America.
When It’s Not Just Substance Abuse
Mental health disorders—such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia— impact the lives of approximately 308,200 adult residents in Arizona.18
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, just over 40% of adults in Arizona with a mental health disorder receive treatment. This means that a majority of people in the state dealing with mental illness do not access or do not receive adequate help.18
Unfortunately, when left untreated, mental illness can turn dire. There were 19 deaths by suicide for every 100,000 residents of Arizona in 2019. This is higher than the national average of 14.5.19
Approximately half of all individuals with severe mental disorders were impacted by substance abuse or dependence. Furthermore, 53% of individuals who abuse or are dependent on street drugs and 37% of individuals who abuse or are dependent on alcohol have at least one mental illness.
Treatment in Arizona
There are more than 400 addiction treatment facilities in Arizona. Nearly 90 offer residential (live-in) treatment, while 340 offer outpatient services.21 If you’re a Phoenician struggling with substance abuse, you have many options in the state.
Paying for Treatment
One of the first questions that comes to many individuals’ minds when considering treatment for a drug or alcohol abuse problem is how much it is going to cost and how they’ll pay for it. The good news is that many treatment facilities are exploring new payment options to help clients afford lifesaving care.
According to 2016 data, nearly 59% of U.S. treatment facilities offered sliding scales to make treatment more accessible.22 A sliding scale refers to an adjustment of cost based on financial need. This allowed for many people to be treated for their issues despite not having high income levels.
When you’re looking for treatment, don’t hesitate to ask about payment options upfront. Treatment may be more affordable than you think.
For those who have little to no income to report to participating facilities, Medicaid may be a plausible option. In 2016, an estimated 34% of U.S. treatment facilities accepted Medicare, while nearly 62% accepted Medicaid.22
Some facilities will even offer treatment at no cost for those who are unable to pay.22
Finding the Right Treatment Facility
Individuals interested in rehab in Arizona should carefully select their treatment facility and ensure all qualifying credentials are met. Reputable Phoenix drug rehabilitation centers will be accredited by The Joint Commission or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.
Licenses for treatment centers can be verified with state agencies. Those who require tandem mental health services are encouraged to seek rehab institutions that have qualified medical practitioners and psychotherapists on staff to render such treatment.
When looking for a program, also take treatment stays into consideration. If you have a severe addiction, you may require a longer program (such as 90-plus days). Not all facilities offer stays that long, so this should be part of your search as you look for the right program for you.
Free Resources in Arizona
There are plenty of free resources available to residents of Arizona who are seeking quality substance abuse and/or mental health care, such as:
- Arizona Department of Health Services
- Substance Abuse Prevention Committee of Arizona
- The Wheel Council
- The New Foundation
- United States Census Bureau. (n.d.). QuickFacts Phoenix city, Arizona.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Rise in prescription drug misuse and abuse impacting teens.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. (2019). Drug overdoses in youth.
- S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019). Economy at a glance, Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ.
- Kurtz, A. (2013). 1 in 6 unemployed are substance abusers.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). America’s drug overdose epidemic: data to action.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Opioid-involved overdose deaths.
- NORML Foundation. (n.d.). Arizona laws and penalties.
- Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. (n.d.). Drug enforcement.
- Suzuki Law Offices. (n.d.). Possession or use of a dangerous drug.
- Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. (n.d.). Drug enforcement.
- Ingraham, C. (2016). Where the heaviest-drinking Americans live.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Alcohol poisoning deaths infographic.
- Edwards and Petersen, PLC. Attorneys at Law. (n.d.). Arizona DUI statistics (compared to other states).
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.) Alcohol’s effects on the body.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2019). Fall semester-time for parents to discuss the risks of college drinking.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (n.d.). Substance use and mental disorders in the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale MSA.
- org. (n.d.). Mental health resources in Arizona.
- United Health Foundation. (n.d.). Public health impact: suicide.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2010). Mental illness and substance abuse.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). United States TEDS admissions aged 12 years and older, by primary substance use and gender, age at admission, race, and ethnicity: percent, 2017.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). 2016 state profile—United States and other jurisdictions National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS).