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Arizona Opioid Overdose Deaths Spike in 2016


Arizona saw a big increase in overdose deaths last year as the opioid epidemic showed no signs of relenting.

The state released a report Thursday that showed Arizona had 790 opioid deaths in 2016 — a 16 percent increase from the previous year.

Prescription opioids caused 482 deaths, compared to 308 for heroin.

Arizona Department of Health Services director Cara Christ called the increase alarming and said it shows the impact drug overdoses are having on the state.

The increase occurred even as state officials made it a top priority to combat the opioid epidemic. Gov. Doug Ducey put a limit on prescription painkiller prescriptions for people on Medicaid, and Phoenix implemented a program that lets addicts turn in their drugs to a local police precinct and get treatment.

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