By Merilee Fowler, Executive Director, MATFORCE
Sedona AZ news — MATFORCE, is a Prescott Valley 501 C3, focuses on drug abuse prevention in Yavapai County, Arizona, and in implementing drug abuse coalitions statewide. Their mission statement is, “With determination and integrity, we, the citizens of Yavapai County, commit to working in partnership to build healthier communities by striving to eliminate substance abuse and its effects.”
What are the drug trends in Yavapai County as respects adult use? Illicit fentanyl is the #1 killer, with methamphetamine being #2.
Overdose deaths are on the rise in our county. In 2017, there were 40 overdose deaths but in 2020, there were 81 deaths or a 100% increase in four years. Of the 81 overdose deaths in 2020, 42 decedents had fentanyl in their system, 28 decedents had methamphetamine in their systems. 5 teenagers between 14 and 19 died in 2020, all from taking counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.
Fentanyl is an opioid that, when legal and utilized by trained physicians, is a prescription pain reducer. Illegal fentanyl is a synthetic (illegally man-made) that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Heroin is an illegal opioid that comes in a white powder form or as “black tar”. Beware of pressed pill fentanyl referred to as”M-30’s”.
Fentanyl is flooding our Arizona streets and there has been a 1610% increase in illegal fentanyl pill seizures. 2021 “meth. 2.0” is purer, more plentiful, more dangerous, more deadly and cheaper than previous years. Since 2017, there has been an 86% increase in Arizona meth. deaths due to the lower cost, higher potency and greater availability.
Meth is produced in “super labs” in Mexico by the cartels and is transported illegally across our border. AZ meth. seizures since 2015 have jumped from 3574 kilograms to 15,791 kilograms, or a 342% increase.
What about our Arizona children and grandchildren? The 2020 Arizona Youth Survey showed that past 30 day use of substances by our children was as follows: (1) e-cigarettes, (2) alcohol (3) marijuana (4) marijuana concentrates (5) binge drinking (6) marijuana edibles (7) cigarettes.
The good news is youth alcohol, cigarette and prescription use is declining. The bad news is there is a 20% increase in marijuana use and a 51% increase in vaping (e-cigarettes).
What can we do to help our children and grand children stay off illegal drugs? The Youth Survey answers on why kids use, in the children’s own words, were as follows: (1) “to have fun” (2) “to feel good “(3) “stress due to school” (4) “stress due to family” (5) “feeling sad”.
Kids who answered the Youth Survey and indicated that they did not use drugs gave these reasons: (1) “not interested” (2) “could harm me” (3) “it would disappoint my parents” (4) “it is illegal” (5) “I could lose privileges” (6) “I would disappoint others” (7) “I would get a bad reputation” (8) “I would get expelled”.
When asked if they had talked to their parents about drugs, the Youth Survey results indicated that only 35.1% of kids had talked to parents about alcohol, only 31% had talked to parents about marijuana, only 25.7% had talked about tobacco, only 25.2% talked about illegal drugs, and only 20.5% had talked about prescription drugs.
What can you do to protect your family and your children or grandchildren? 9 out of 10 people who become addicted to alcohol or drugs started using as a teenager. Parents or grandparents should talk early and often with children against using alcohol, marijuana and/or any indiscriminate use of pills, legal or illegal. We must have specific conversations about fentanyl and about avoiding any pill that is offered to our teens at a party or, is offered by another teen or an adult in any indiscriminate setting.
We must encourage our schools, our City Councils, our Board of Supervisors, our Arizona Legislature, our Federal Government and our local medical personnel to advocate for good, protective policy. We must consider carrying Naloxone (Narcan) with us (available in Arizona pharmacies without a prescription) in case of an overdose. We must get involved and be strong advocates to protect all of Arizona children. Go to MATFORCE.org for more information.