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Drug And Alcohol Rehab Resources In Arizona

Arizona—the 48th state to join the US—is beloved for its natural wonders, including the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park, Red Rock State Park, the Sonoran Desert and most famously the Grand Canyon. Carved over thousands of years by the Colorado River, the canyon boggles the mind of all who visit with it's astonishing 6,000 feet dept and 18 mile wide span! However, as entrancing as the Grand Canyon State is, it also has a far more sinister side: an out of control epidemic of alcohol and drug use.

Drug and alcohol abuse is a national cancer, infecting people from all walks of life, rich and poor, young and old. It's sickened people in every single state across the US, and has been especially hard on Arizona.

Arizona's Pain Pill Pipeline

Much like the rest of the United States, the scourge of opioid addiction has blown through Arizona like a wildfire, laying waste to whole communities, and decimating families. It's a particularly menacing foe because it's an addiction that can sneak up on people, even when they think they're being vigilant.

Prescription painkillers (like Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet) are highly addictive, in large part because they activate the powerful reward centers in the human brain. These drugs trigger the release of endorphins, (your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters) which mask or interrupt your perception of pain and enhance feelings of pleasure and happiness, creating a short-lasting but extremely powerful sense of well-being. It's only human to love the sensation- And, when an opioid starts to wear off, it's in our very human nature to crave the return of that wonderful feeling that everything is perfect and as it should be. This is the first step on the path toward addiction, and it can happen even to people who think they're being careful.

The root of the opioid problem stems from doctors over-prescribing these highly addictive drugs when, in many cases, Tylenol, Excedrin or Advil will do. These drugs may seem safe, especially when doctors prescribe them, but just one or two of few these prescription pain pills can get people hooked and send them off on a downward spiral into the throes of full-on dependency. These drugs are stealing our family members, our sons, our daughters, and our very future.

Among states in the US, Arizona has one of the highest rates of prescription drug misuse, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Between 2010 and 2011, roughly 6 percent of Arizona residents over the age of 12 were abusing prescription drugs, namely opiates, prescription pain pills, and benzodiazepines. Arizona hospitals saw a 100 percent increase in opioid overdoses from 2008-2013, and arrests for DUIs have increased by 99 percent!

Prescription pill abuse can often lead to abusing other substances, so it's no wonder that Arizona is battling the drug war on several other fronts, all at the same time.

A Morbid Graduation: From Pills to Heroin

In addition to ruining lives, prescription opioid abuse can also send people down far darker paths. Opioids often lead to heroin addiction, (as heroin is cheaper than the pills, and usually far easier to obtain on the street.) The spiral downward doesn't stop there. When certain street drugs like heroin aren't available, drug abusers often then turn to incredibly powerful and dangerous synthetics like fentanyl, which sooner or later result in a body bag. In the United States, synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths, responsible for 59% of all opioid-related decedents.

Arizonans At War: Heroin By The Numbers

Heroin has accounted for 51 percent of the opioid surge that Arizona has witnessed in the past five years. In 2017, heroin killed 344 Arizona residents— up from 311 in 2016 — and was responsible for 36 percent of opioid-overdose deaths.

Commonly Abused Substances In Arizona

A 2010 study took a wider look at the substances most commonly abused by youth in Arizona, and the numbers give cause for concern.


  • 18% of Arizona high school students (grades 9-12) report they drank alcohol for the first time before age 13.
  • 33% of these same high school students report they had at least 1 drink of alcohol on at least 1 day within the last month.
  • 18% of high school students report they had 4 or more drinks of alcohol in a row (if they were female) or 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row (if they were male), within a couple of hours, within the last month.
  • 39% report they usually obtained the alcohol they drank by someone giving it to them.
  • 6% of high school students (grades 9-12) report they drove a car or other vehicle when they had been drinking alcohol, 1 or more times during the last month.
  • 19% of Arizona high school students (grades 9-12) report they rode in a car or other vehicle with a driver who had been drinking alcohol 1 or more times during the last month.

Cocaine / Crack

6% of these same Arizona high school students (grades 9-12) report they've used any form of cocaine (for example, powder, crack, or freebase) 1 or more times.

Prescription Painkillers / Opioids

4% of Arizona youth (ages 12-17) report using pain relievers in any way not directed by a doctor within the past year.

Fighting The Good Fight

While examining the numbers can make the problem seem insurmountable, the good news for Arizona residents struggling with drug and alcohol addiction is that help is only a few clicks away. We are more connected now than ever and "The Grand Canyon State" is awash in resources, whether you just need counseling, a larger community-based approach, or full-on detox services. All it takes is the courage to take the first, terrifying step. Embrace the pain that got you here. Use it, own it, and move past it. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.





Arizona State Facts
Arizona Population: 5,130,874
Law Enforcement Officers in Arizona: 15,445
Arizona Prison Population: 41,900
Arizona Probation Population: 66,217
Violent Crime Rate National Ranking: 13

2004 Federal Drug Seizures
Cocaine: 3,577.8 kgs.
Heroin: 88.9 kgs.
Methamphetamine: 523.1 kgs.
Marijuana: 312,663.5 kgs.
Ecstasy: 882 tablets
Methamphetamine Laboratories: 59 (DEA, state, and local)

Arizona Drug Situation: Arizona is located directly north of the Mexican State of Sonora, a major drug trafficking stronghold. Along the 350 miles of border are three principal ports of entry (Nogales, Douglas, and San Luis) and three secondary ports of entry (Lukeville, Sasabe, and Naco). Most of the border area consists of inhospitable desert and steep mountain ranges, which are sparsely populated and not frequently patrolled by Arizona law enforcement. This area becomes ideal for drug smuggling which makes Arizona function primarily as a drug importation and transshipment state. Drug smuggling and transportation in Arizona are dominated by major Mexican trafficking organizations. These groups are poly-drug organizations smuggling cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and precursor chemicals in and through Arizona.

Cocaine in Arizona: Intelligence information provided by Arizona law enforcement officers as well as confidential sources indicate that the accessibility and availability of both powder and crack cocaine remained stable in the metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson throughout 2003. The nickname “DUB” has been used recently in the Phoenix area when referring to crack cocaine. The Northern Arizona communities as well as the Sierra Vista area experienced a decline in the presence of cocaine during 2003. Cocaine entering Arizona from Mexico is transshipped to areas throughout the United States with the most common destinations being New York, New Jersey, Missouri, North Carolina, Kansas, and Illinois. Pipeline stops in these states indicate the cocaine is usually picked up in either Tucson or Phoenix and driven to the final destination. Markings seen on the packaging of kilogram cocaine seizures during 2003 include: the word “wimmore”; the letters “A”, “B”, and “XX” with circles around them; the letter “T”; a face with the name “TUTILA”, the marks “////”; and an imprint of a lion.

Heroin in Arizona: Mexican black tar heroin along with brown powder heroin continue to be smuggled into Arizona both through and between the Ports of Entry. A National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) study conducted in Phoenix during 2003 revealed that black tar heroin is the most common form of heroin abused in metropolitan area's of Arizona and users are primarily Caucasian and Hispanic. The prescription drug Clonazepam (Klonopin), which is commonly used for panic disorders and seizures, is being abused by heroin addicts receiving Methadone treatment. When Methadone and Clonazepam are consumed together, it simulates the high usually achieved from heroin.

Methamphetamine in Arizona: Since the beginning of 2003, crystal methamphetamine, also known as “ICE” has dominated street level sales throughout Arizona. The demand and availability of “ICE” has continued to increase in Arizona with no indication of leveling off. Seizures of methamphetamine along the Arizona/Mexico border have tripled over the past year; however, this increase hasn’t affected the price of methamphetamine which remain stable. Clandestine methamphetamine laboratories in Mexico manufacture crystal methamphetamine in pound quantities where it is frequently smuggled across the border into Arizona using a wide range of concealment methods. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) has replaced caffeine and niacinamide as the preferred cutting agent used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine because the precursors psuedoephedrine, ephedrine and other necessary chemicals are strictly regulated in Arizona. MSM is not regulated and can be purchased at feed and tack stores, pet food chains, nutrition centers, etc. MSM also adds bulk to finished methamphetamine, thereby increasing traffickers’ profits and stretching the supply. Intelligence indicates “superlabs” in Mexico are now supplying a majority of the high purity methamphetamine throughout Arizona.

Club Drugs and Hallucinogens in Arizona: The Phoenix Division participated in an investigation named “Operation X-Out” which focused on identifying and dismantling organizations that were producing and distributing club and predatory drugs throughout metropolitan Arizona. Intelligence gathered throughout this investigation found people dealing ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and prescription drugs out of numerous Arizona bars and clubs. Ecstasy tablets, bearing the logos of Yellow Star, Green Spade, Blue Rabbits, and Blue Squirrels have been encountered. While LSD remains available throughout most of Arizona, law enforcement agencies report they rarely encounter mushrooms on the street.

Marijuana in Arizona: Marijuana is widely distributed in multi-hundred pound quantities into and throughout the state of Arizona. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement routinely seize hundred pound quantities of marijuana at the Ports of Entry of Arizona as well as from remote sites along the border where the marijuana is abandoned to be picked up by Arizona drug trafficking organizations. The use of passenger vehicles to smuggle marijuana across the border is sometimes linked to corrupt U. S. and Mexican officials working as inspectors at the Ports. A large portion of marijuana smuggled into the United States is delivered by individuals known as “mules” who are paid to carry loads on their backs through remote and often rugged wilderness areas. Makeshift backpacks are designed and constructed from burlap bags used to carry potatoes and sugar, with ropes attached so the bags can be carried over the shoulders. Horses are also used to carry hundred pound loads of marijuana. Large scale marijuana traffickers utilize tractor-trailers as well as refrigerated utility trailers to transport loads through the Ports. Tucson and Phoenix are commonly used as stash locations until the loads are ready to be sent to their final destination.

Prescription Drugs in Arizona: Arizona Methadone clinics estimate that approximately 15 percent of the drug addiction treatment in the Phoenix metropolitan area is attributed to pharmaceutical controlled substances. The Phoenix Division reports that that Vicodin, Lortab and other hydrocodone products; Percocet; OxyContin and other oxycodone products; benzodiazepines; and codeine products are the most abused pharmaceutical controlled substances in Arizona. These analgesic pharmaceuticals are often in combination with Soma to increase effects. Ultram (tramadol) and Nubain are also highly abused prescription-only substances in Arizona. The primary methods of pharmaceutical diversion in Arizona are prescription fraud through forgeries, bogus call-ins, and doctor-shoppers. The Phoenix Division continues to investigate thefts in-transit to pharmacies and distributors, as well as reports of thefts by employees and robberies of pharmacies. Prescription controlled drugs from Mexico are frequently smuggled into Arizona, and internet shipments of controlled substances from foreign source websites is on-going. Internet websites with prescriptions shipped from U.S. pharmacies are also being investigated by the Phoenix DO Diversion Group in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Arizona and Idaho Medical Boards; and the Arizona Pharmacy Board.

Arizona Drug Proceeds: During 2003, drug proceeds were seized throughout Arizona and numerous cash seizures made in other areas of the United States were linked to Arizona. The use of motor vehicles remains the most common method of transporting currency in Arizona, and concealment techniques included: backpacks, purses, socks, pants, wooden boxes, automobile engines, and aftermarket compartments in automobiles. Air travel and commercial packaging services such as Federal Express are also utilized in Arizona to move drug trafficking funds.

Other Drugs in Arizona: Controlled prescription drugs continue to be smuggled from Mexico into Arizona on a regular basis. Hydrocodone, oxycodone, and benzodiazepine products continue to comprise the majority of controlled prescription drugs abused in Arizona. Additionally, Arizona has begun to see organized groups utilizing computer-generated prescriptions to obtain OxyContin for both personal abuse and distribution for profit.

DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams: This cooperative program with state and local law enforcement counterparts was conceived in 1995 in response to the overwhelming problem of drug-related violent crime in towns and cities across the nation. There have been 409 deployments completed resulting in 16,763 arrests of violent drug criminals as of February 2004. There have been 17 Mobile Enforcement Team deployments in the State of Arizona since the inception of the program: Eloy/Pinal, Bullhead City, Prescott, Lake Havasu City, Sierra Vista, Apache County, Coconino County, Navajo County, Payson, Show Low, Glendale, Tombstone, Cottonwood, Avondale, Maryvale, Scottsdale, and Cochise County.

DEA Regional Enforcement Teams: This program was designed to augment existing DEA division resources by targeting drug organizations operating in the United States where there is a lack of sufficient local drug law enforcement. This Program was conceived in 1999 in response to the threat posed by drug trafficking organizations that have established networks of cells to conduct drug trafficking operations in smaller, non-traditional trafficking locations in the United States. Nationwide, there have been 22 Regional Enforcement Team deployments completed, resulting in 608 arrests of drug trafficking criminals as of February 2004. There have been no Regional Enforcement Team deployments in the State of Arizona.

Special Topics: Law enforcement agencies in the Nogales, Arizona area continue to receive information regarding the use of subterranean tunnels to transfer both narcotics and undocumented migrants from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico into the United States. The tunnels usually tie into the drainage system and at least 8 tunnels were discovered during 2003. Gaps in the border fences and open areas with no barriers at all are also used by drug traffickers and others who wish to enter the United States illegally. There is also widespread use of unguarded crossing points between Sierra Vista and Nogales. The Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation stretches 90 miles across southern Arizona along the Mexican border, encompassing 2,773,357 acres. The proximity to the border and the limited law enforcement personnel working on the reservation, make this area a primary transit point for narcotics being smuggled from Mexico into the United States.