Scottsdale, Arizona, is one of the largest cities in Maricopa County and all of Arizona. Some 230,512 people call this industrious town home.1 There is plenty to do outside year round, so outdoor enthusiasts tend to love what the city has to offer. In addition, the area boasts several clubs and bars that give the town its Miami-like party vibe. Those in search of a busy nightlife every day of the week are likely to find it here. For that reason, alcohol abuse and drug abuse are prevalent in the city.

Drug Abuse

popularity of drug abuse continues to grow in Scottsdale ArizonaDrug abuse continues to grow in popularity around Scottsdale. The rate of illicit drug abuse in the past month reached 8.95 per 100,000 people in Arizona between 2007 and 2008, while it remained at just 8.02 per 100,000 people nationwide.2 Scottsdale’s booming nightlife lends to these numbers. Club drugs are particularly popular in the city, although they still can’t compete with rates of abuse of harder substances like meth, cocaine, and heroin.

There were 455,319 people seeking treatment for opiate abuse in America in 2012, along with 121,065 for cocaine and 305,560 for cannabis.3In Arizona, opiate abuse was lower at 4,483 admissions, cocaine at 1,063 admissions, and cannabis at 4,918 admissions.4 The high number of marijuana admissions isn’t surprising given 53 percent of the state’s residents support decriminalizing the drug.5 Arizona actually boasts the nation’s sixth highest prescription drug abuse rate at 5.66 percent versus the national rate of 4.57 percent.6

Not everyone who engages in substance abuse ends up addicted to drugs or alcohol though. That being said, dependency isn’t a requirement for overdose. Many overdoses occur spontaneously in individuals who aren’t accustomed to drug and alcohol abuse at all, which may contribute to the outcome. Others overdose after having tried to get clean. They go through withdrawal, or at least begin to, and then start inching toward relapse. When they use again, they reach for the same dose they’ve always used, but their tolerance has lowered during detox and their body can no longer handle that amount of the substance. Thus, an overdose occurs. Approximately 100 Americans lose their lives to drug overdose-related deaths every day, and 17.5 per 100,000 Arizona residents overdose yearly.7,8

Synthetic drugs are gaining traction nationwide, especially with youths, and Scottsdale is no exception. One in 10 teenagers across the state admits to having used a synthetic drug at some point in time.9 N-bomb is of particular interest in recent years in Scottsdale where two 18-year-old individuals died after ingesting the drug.10

While other forms of substance abuse still impact the youth of Arizona every day, rates of abuse for tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol have declined in the last 10 years among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in Scottsdale.11

Drug crime is also growing along with abuse rates in the party town. Arizona’s inmate population reached 41,157 by the end of 2013.12 It is estimated that this number will surpass 43,000 by 2016.13 Possession charges vary from two years for marijuana to 2.5 years and up for heroin.14,15 Sales of these drugs impose higher penalties. Transporting marijuana around the state, often brought into it by Mexican drug trade smugglers, can render 12.5 years in jail for each count charged.16

Scottsdale Alcohol Abuse Trend

Alcohol abuse is plentiful in Scottsdale. Home to many young people, the nation’s biggest demographic for alcohol abuse and binge drinking, the city promotes wild times and late nights fueled by alcohol consumption. A 2013 survey noted the proportion of Americans who reported past-month binge drinking was quite high at 60.1 million people.17
multiple causes of alcohol related deaths in Scottsdale Arizona. Treatment data shows 4,844 people sought treatment for alcohol abuse alone in Arizona during 2012, and another 3,450 who were abusing both alcohol and other illicit substances sought help.18 Many fail to seek help for their addiction and end up in far worse shape, and some even die as a result of substance abuse. Around 88,000 individuals die every year from alcohol-related causes in America.19 Even seasoned drinkers are at risk of overdose, perhaps more so than others if they regularly engage in binge drinking practices
Causes of other alcohol-related deaths include:

  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Automobile accidents involving a driver under the influence of alcohol
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease

Arrest rates for individuals who drive under the influence of alcohol have actually declined in recent years. There were 918,462 arrests for this crime nationally in 2013, and 31,662 of them occurred in Arizona.20 One DUI arrest may only impose a few days in jail, a suspended license, and minor fines, but with repeated arrests, individuals may find themselves unable to drive for a year, in jail for several months, and paying much larger fines.21

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Mental Illness

Behind the scenes in Scottsdale, many residents are suffering in silence with mental health disorders that are left untreated. While national rates of mental illness are as high as 42.5 million, the number in Arizona is 294,000.22,23 The national figure represents around 20 percent of the country’s population, while Arizona’s figure is representative of 4.5 percent of the state’s population of 6.5 million.24,25

Left untreated, individual cases of mental illness may worsen significantly over time, especially with substance abuse compounding these issues. Suicide is no stranger to Arizonans either; 979 residents died this way in 2006.26

Mental illness and substance abuse are both linked to higher rates of criminal behavior, too. In 2008, around 8,900 people who had a mental health disorder were incarcerated in Arizona.27

Treating Substance Abuse in Scottsdale

There are just five substance abuse treatment facilities within the city limits of Scottsdale, and only three of them treat co-occurring mental health issues.28 Among these facilities, outpatient care is available at all of them and residential treatment at just two.29

There are limited payment assistance programs through treatment facilities and physicians in the city of Scottsdale, but further inquiries for this kind of financial help should be made to government organizations and healthcare assistance agencies. Options are always available.

For those individuals who have health insurance, most providers are now bound by law to cover substance abuse and mental health treatment services. Of course, some people do not have insurance. A reported 22.7 million people needed treatment in 2013 and of the 20.2 million who didn’t receive it, 37.3 percent cited a lack of insurance as their primary reason for opting out of getting help.30

Other reasons cited for avoiding treatment or being unable to get it included:

  • Not ready to quit: 24.5 percent
  • Not sure where to get help: 9 percent
  • Insurance doesn’t cover the treatment needed: 8.2 percent
  • No way to get to and from treatment or inconvenient treatment hours: 8 percent31

Treating Substance Abuse in ScottsdaleIf you find yourself feeling weary of moving forward following treatment or that you need a hand to hold while you are walked through the process of readjusting to life, you may benefit from spending some time at a local sober living facility. Scottsdale has five for you to choose from.32

The federal government and state authorizing agencies both govern the substance abuse and mental health treatment industry. Certain requirements must be met in individual states for these facilities and physicians to operate within the letter of the law. Treatment counselors must hold a master’s level degree, and facility operations managers and employees must meet an extensive list of other requirements. For more information on treatment in Scottsdale, contact the Arizona Department of Health Services.


  1. “State & County QuickFacts.” (2014). United States Census Bureau. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  2. “Arizona Drug Control Update.” (n.d.). White House. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  3. Treatment Episode Data Set.” (2012). SAMHSA. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  4. “Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions by Primary Substance of Abuse.” (2012). SAMHSA. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  5. Giles, B. (2015 Jun 3). “Poll: 53 percent of Arizonans favor decriminalizating marijuana.” Arizona Capitol Times. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  6. Radnovich, C. (2013 Jan 21). “Report: Arizona has nation’s sixth-highest prescription drug abuse rate.” ABC News. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  7. Pollack, H. (2014 Feb 7). “100 Americans die of drug overdoses each day. How do we stop that?.” Washington Post. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  8. “Prevention Status Report.” (2013). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  9. Balint, V.L. (Sep 2013). “Back to school, time to talk about drugs.” Raising Arizona Kids. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Bloom, A. (2009 Feb 26). “Survey measures student drug abuse.” Arizona Central. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  12. Harris, C. (2013 Dec 29). “Arizona faces growing cost of private prisons.” AZ Central. Accessed September 15, 2015.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Arizona Laws & Penalties.” (n.d.). NORML. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  15. Arizona Heroin Laws.” (n.d.). FindLaw. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  16. Arizona Laws & Penalties.” (n.d.). NORML. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  17. Substance Use and Mental Health Estimates from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Overview of Findings.” (2014 Sep 4). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  18. “Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions by Primary Substance of Abuse.” (2012). SAMHSA. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  19. Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” (n.d.). National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  20. State Map.” (n.d.). Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  21. Stim, R. (n.d.). “Arizona Drunk Driving Fines and Penalties.” NOLO. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  22. State Estimates of Mental Illness from the 2011 and 2012 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.” (2014 Feb 28). SAMHSA. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  23. “State Statistics: Arizona.” (2010). National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  24. Substance Use and Mental Health Estimates from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Overview of Findings.” (2014 Sep 4). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  25. “State Statistics: Arizona.” (2010). National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator.” (n.d.). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Accessed September 17, 2015.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Substance Use and Mental Health Estimates from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Overview of Findings.” (2014 Sep 4). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  31. Ibid.
  32. Sober Living Directory.” (n.d.). Intervention America. Accessed September 21, 2015.
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