With gorgeous red rock, striking panoramic mountain vistas, stunning sunsets, and nearly three-hundred and sixty five days of sunshine, Arizona makes a name for itself as one of the most picturesque states in the country. Unfortunately, like many other places in the United States, Arizona is seeing a massive upswing in drug and alcohol abuse. Even more daunting is the increase in number of substance abuse-related deaths, which have risen 9.4% from 2016 to 2017 (CDC), and continue to rise into 2019. To top it off, Arizona is in close proximity to Sonora, Mexico which is widely known to be a drug trafficking hub. In fact, according to a report published by, the DeConcini Port of Entry in downtown Nogales, Arizona had the most drug arrests in the country. Other ports of entry in AZ claimed 7 out of 10 spots in the top ten ranking for ports with the most drug busts in the country in 2016, which means that there is a constant supply of illicit drugs entering the country every day.

The most commonly abused illicit drugs in Arizona are methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Arizona also has a huge problem with abuse of legal substances such as alcohol and prescription painkillers. We’ve compiled some statistics to give you an idea of just how prevalent these disorders are, in hopes of raising awareness of the grave problem that faces our beautiful state.


Arizona's rising addiction ratesAlcohol is the number one most abused substance in the state of Arizona. It is the easiest drug to access and the most socially acceptable to use, therefore making it one of the most dangerous. When “drinking in moderation” slips into binge drinking, the user may not even notice until much later. This is because tolerance builds up over time, and those who consume alcohol on a daily basis may not even realize they have a problem until the drug has been wreaking havoc on their body and relationships for some time. Based on a 2013 CDC Behavioral Risk Factor survey, approximately 780,000 Arizona residents (about 13%) said that they binge drink. A report from the CDC cited that Arizona had the fourth-highest alcohol-related death count in the U.S. between 2010 and 2012, and alcohol poisoning was killing Arizonans at a rate of 18.7 per million residents over the age of 15.

Prescription Painkillers and Opioids

Prescription painkillers, specifically opioids, are very chemically similar to heroin. This often leads those who have developed a dependence on their prescriptions to turn to heroin, which is more inexpensive and more widely available, to sustain their habit. In 2013, there were 76.2 opioid prescriptions written for every 100 Arizona residents ( In 2016, 431 million pills were prescribed which equalled out to be enough to make up a two and a half week supply of prescription opioids for every man, woman, and child in the state (AZ Department of Health Services).

The Arizona Department of Health Services states that from June 15, 2017 to February 21, 2019, there have been:

  • 2,426 suspect opioid deaths
  • 18,198 suspect opioid overdoses
  • 1,263 neonatal abstinence syndrome diagnoses
  • 39,555 naloxone doses dispensed
  • 11,285 naloxone doses administered


Heroin is what many prescription painkiller-addicted people transition to using after becoming dependent on opioids. In fact, a 2014 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that 75% of heroin users in treatment say that their addiction began with prescription painkillers, which is a staggering number. Heroin was to blame for 344 deaths in Arizona in 2017 and accounted for 36 percent of opioid-related deaths (AZ Central).


Surprisingly however, opioids are not considered the number one drug threat in Arizona. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration in Phoenix named methamphetamines over opioids due to an increase in seizures of the illicit drug by enforcement personnel, DEA spokeswoman Erica Curry said. The DEA’s 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment says officials seized around 5,584 pounds of meth at the border near Tucson, AZ in 2016, demonstrating a 98% increase since 2015, and the numbers continue to rise. The Arizona Department of Health Services said that 14,607 visits to the emergency room were related to amphetamines and psychostimulants, which was an increase from earlier years. While opioid use results in a higher number of overdose deaths, usage of methamphetamines has been shown to lead to more crimes and more prisoners in jail.


Cocaine, or crack in its solid form, is a highly addictive stimulant that is most often abused by young adults, aged 18 to 25. The drug has become increasingly dangerous due to being mixed with fentanyl or other dangerous fillers. If the person using the drug is unaware of this, it could quickly lead to overdose and potentially death.

Arizona ranks among the top 10 states with the most cocaine use in young adults aged 18 to 25.


While marijuana is widely considered to be a harmless drug, it can still lead the user to dependence on the substance that deeply affects their work, personal relationships, mental health, etc. And though it has been legalized in some states across the U.S., it is still illegal to consume the drug without possessing a medical card in Arizona, and even then there are restrictions on how much you can have on your person at one time. Believe it or not, many people enter treatment programs for dependence on marijuana, which shows the negative impact it can have on a person’s life to the point where they would see it as a major problem.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Resources in Arizona

Luckily, there are plenty of resources and treatment options for those suffering from addiction. Scottsdale Recovery Center® is wholeheartedly committed to the successful recovery for you or your loved one. We realize this is the worse time of your life and hope to provide you with the highest quality of addiction recovery treatment possible. We believe in an individualistic and comprehensive approach to drug and alcohol addiction, incorporating both therapeutic and holistic treatments that lead to long lasting sobriety.

You can visit the link below for a full list of the best resources and treatment options available in Arizona.

Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment Resources in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona and Nationwide

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.