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Arizona ranks 2nd in nation for overdose deaths

Posted at 4:12 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 08:49:45-05

Arizona wants to get serious about fixing its drug problem.

So, it’s tackling the issue head on, with new state Substance Abuse Task Force.  

On Tuesday, Governor Doug Ducey appointed 30-people to the coalition; a mixture of politicians, healthcare workers, abuse experts and members of the community. The goal is to come up with ways to reverse Arizona’s growing drug abuse problem.

In a statement released on Governor Ducey's website, he said "Substance abuse and addiction isn’t someone else’s problem – it’s Arizona’s problem, and it’s a growing national crisis. We must work together to raise awareness, to educate our communities, and to reverse this silent but severe epidemic.”

A recent report from HealthGrove found Arizona has the second highest death rate caused by drug overdose in the nation.

Using statistics from the CDC, HealthGrove found Arizona had the second highest overdose rate, with more than 20 deaths per 100,000 people.

With only 15 counties statewide, nearly 85-percent of people in Arizona live in counties with high overdose death rates.

Nationally, CDC numbers show overdose deaths jumped 7-percent, killing more than 40,000 in 2014.

The announcement of the coalition members comes one month after Ducey promised changes in his State of the State address.

In January’s address, the Governor acknowledged more needs to be done to prevent drug abuse and addiction through increased education and early intervention.

The website describes the new task force as a group that will "provide recommendations on a variety of substance abuse-related issues, including access to treatment, evidence-based practices, neonatal abstinence syndrome and medically assisted treatment best practices."

To see the full release from the governor's office, click here.

The first meeting of the new task force will be March 23rd.