New reporting on opiate overdoses finds 15 deaths last week

- A frightening reality is unfolding in Arizona. New numbers show just how bad the opioid crisis is in this state.

Earlier this month, Governor Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency and he ordered all opioid overdoses and deaths be reported within 24 hours of happening. On Monday, the first real-time report was released. Because of the executive order, we should now be getting these numbers once a week.

We spoke to an addiction specialist and she says we can't understand the problem unless we see it in real-time numbers.

Last week, there were 191 suspected overdoses and 15 deaths. The report also showed 18 babies were born showing withdrawal symptoms and 102 uses of the antidote.

CEO of BlueDoor Therapeutics Gina Berman says these real-time numbers are important to get the issue under control.

"It's highlighting the extent of the problem. It is really showing and putting in front of everyone's consciousness, the volume of the problem and the gravity of the problem. When you see how many babies are born dependent. When you see how many doses of Narcan are given in the field and you can see how many people die. It's important for people to know how bad this has really gotten," she said.

Another solution to the problem, according to Berman, is letting people use medical marijuana to kick their opioid addiction. At Blue Door, they combine the use of medical cannabis with traditional medicine. Berman says so far, they've seen success.

"Number one, it helps with withdrawal symptoms and number two, it helps with cravings and number three, you cannot overdose on it. So even if it's a bridge to sobriety or release from chemical dependency, it gets the patient to the next day." 

Blue Door's Medical Director, Ravi Chadiramani, added, "We have evidence now to show that when medical marijuana is an option, opioid overdose deaths go down, period, full stop."    

Berman is hoping other states do the same and make this type of weekly reporting mandatory. She says she also wants people to be aware that you can get Narcan over the counter and anyone with a problem should always have it.

Blue Door Therapeutics
10900 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste 609
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
480-667-6100
bluedoor.org

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