Opi­oid-over­dose deaths in Ari­zona top 400 since June

The Arizona Republic - - Health -

40 per­cent of the peo­ple who are sus­pected of a drug over­dose are al­ready in a statewide data­base, called the Con­trolled Sub­stances Pre­scrip­tion Mon­i­tor­ing Pro­gram.

But de­spite this num­ber, only a quar­ter of the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als who are pre­scrib­ing opi­oids in Ari­zona check the data­base be­fore writ­ing a pre­scrip­tion, she said.

On Oct. 16, a new man­date went into ef­fect that re­quires clin­i­cians to check the data­base prior to pre­scrib­ing opi­oids or ben­zo­di­azepines (drugs that en­hance the ac­tion of neu­ro­trans­mit­ters in the brain).

About 40 per­cent of pa­tients reg­is­tered in the data­base who had an over­dose were pre­scribed both opi­oids and ben­zo­di­azepines, de­spite a high risk for com­pli­ca­tions if com­bined, she said.

Christ noted other states have im­ple­mented sim­i­lar man­dates, say­ing they re­duce the num­ber of opi­oids pre­scribed across the board.

Ear­lier this week, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clared the opi­oid over­dose epi­demic a na­tional pub­lichealth emer­gency.

In Ari­zona ear­lier this month, the time win­dow for the state to col­lect opi­oid-re­lated over­dose in­for­ma­tion from first re­spon­ders and health-care providers was pushed back to five days, from 24 hours.

De­spite the less-fre­quent re­ports, Christ said, sev­eral facts have come to light about opi­oid abuse while comb­ing through the data.

Men ages 25 to 29 are at the high­est risk of opi­oid over­doses.

Most over­doses oc­cur at home.

37 per­cent of peo­ple sus­pected of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an over­dose were pre­scribed an opi­oid less than two months ear­lier.

Chronic pain is the most cited symp­tom in peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­ence a sus­pected over­dose.

“ADHS will con­tinue to mon­i­tor these in­di­ca­tors on a monthly ba­sis to as­sess progress,” Christ said.

The state pre­vi­ously re­ported that at least 790 Ari­zo­nans died from an over­dose of an opi­oid pre­scrip­tion last year.

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