Arizona Drug Use Trends
Recent surveys and studies conducted in cooperation with local, state and federal agencies has revealed several serious substance abuse issues in the state of Arizona. These issues don't only affect one type of individual, but Arizona residents of all ages and backgrounds. Substance abuse is a very widespread problem in Arizona which no resident is immune to, highlighting the need for effective education, early intervention, intervention in general, and drug rehabilitation made widely available for anyone who needs it in the state.
Studies in Arizona show alcohol continues to be the most commonly used substance in Arizona youth. They also indicated that 30-day alcohol use among Hispanic youth was highest, and that female youth in the state experience a higher lifetime alcohol use than males across 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. Among Arizona adults, most report they drink occasionally although males indicated the use of more drinks per day than females in the state, with 10% of males reporting they had 3 or more drinks per day compared to 4% of females.
Of Arizona marijuana users who reported using the drug within the past 30 days, a higher percentage of males (61%) were current marijuana users than females (39%). In regards to lifetime use of illicit drug use in general in Arizona, prevalence was highest among males. Shockingly, adults between the ages of 50-59 were the most likely age category reporting to have ever used illicit drugs (40%).
Prescription drug abuse, which is non-medical use of any type of prescription drug without a doctor's consent or using a drug other than prescribed, is a major problem in Arizona. Of the 10% of residents who said that they had ever used prescription drugs without a doctor's consent, almost half (48 percent) said they had used prescription pain relievers, and 32% had used sedatives. Of residents who reported having used prescription drugs without a doctor's consent, 14% of respondents in each of the three mid-range age groups (29-39, 40-49, and 50-59) used prescription drugs without a doctor's consent in the last 30 days. So did 19% of 60-69 years old, and 11% of 70 of residents aged and older.
Students attending residential state higher education institutions in Arizona report using alcohol than any other substance. Additionally, one in five male higher education students in Arizona report use of marijuana in the past 30 days. Another surprising find is that reported marijuana use among Asian/Pacific Islanders nearly doubled from 2010 (5.8 percent) to 2012 (10.7 percent), and the reported use of pain killers among Asian/Pacific Islanders also increased substantially from 2010 (1.9 percent) to 2012 (9.9 percent) as did the reported use of sedatives for Asian/Pacific Islanders from 0.6 percent to 4.2 percent. Males who attend higher education institutions in Arizona who are under the age of 21 report the highest percentage of non-medical stimulant use.
As is the case in many other states, Arizona residents within the corrections system tend to have greater risk of use of illegal and illicit drugs. Between 2010 and 2012, almost 90% of juveniles newly admitted in the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections were diagnosed as substance dependent or substance abusers. Records indicate that the total numbers of drug and alcohol arrests are down in Arizona, however an increasing percentage of those arrests come from the younger youth served by the juvenile court, especially children under age 13. And it must be pointed out as well that African American youth in Arizona have not experienced the same rate of decline in drug and alcohol arrests as White and Hispanic youth, which have remained steady over the four year period for African American Youth.
Arrest records in Arizona show that alcohol is the substance most often used during the commission of crimes in the state which led to incarceration. Of those arrested, one-third of juveniles report using beer and wine, around 28% percent reported using hard liquor, and an additional 8.2 percent report using methamphetamines. Among adult offenders, use of alcohol and other drugs has declined among new inmates but is still quite high at around 48%. Marijuana and methamphetamine have showed increased usage in recent years among new inmates in the state. Studies and records indicate that there are other at-risk populations who are caught up in drug abuse aside from those who are drug offenders, including an estimated 14% of pregnant females or females with dependent children in the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Population in Arizona:5,939,292
State Prison Population in Arizona:32,515
Probation Population in Arizona:69,343
Violent Crime Rate in Arizona;
2007 Federal Drug Seizures in Arizona
Cocaine seized in Arizona:2,196.4 kgs.
Heroin seized in Arizona:48.0 kgs.
Methamphetamine seized in Arizona:331.8/kgs/138 du
Marijuana seized in Arizona:428,800.9 kgs.
Hashish seized in Arizona:38.8 kgs
MDMA seized in Arizona:0.0 kgs/47 du
Meth Lab Incidents in Arizona:8
(DEA, Arizona, and local city Law Enforcement)
Drug situation in Arizona:
- Arizona is directly North of the Mexican State of Sonora, which is a major trafficking and smuggling stronghold.
- Trafficking into Arizona from Mexico has increased significantly in the past year.
- Along the 350 mile Arizona/Mexico border are 3 major ports of entry and 3 secondary ports (Lukeville, Arizona, Sasabe, Mexico and Naco, Mexico). Most of the border is inhospitable, consisting of mountain ranges and desert and infrequently patrolled by law enforcement. These areas are sparsely populated and ideal for drug smuggling into Arizona.
- Arizona is used as a drug importation and transshipment state by Mexican trafficking organizations.
- Mexican DTOs bring cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and precursor chemicals into Arizona to be distributed.
- The Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona metropolitan areas are used as major transshipment points for the distribution of cocaine throughout the United States.
- Colombia ships cocaine by land, sea and air into Mexico where it is then transported to areas near the Mexico/Arizona border.
- Cocaine is smuggled by Mexican cartels into Arizona using commercial trucks, private vehicles, animal caravans and backpackers.
- Multi-ton quantities of cocaine are smuggled across the Mexican/Arizona border on a regular basis.
- It is common to have 20-30 kilograms loads of Cocaine smuggled into Arizona at one time, minimizing the loss if a vehicle is searched by law enforcement.
- Some of the cocaine that is trafficked into Arizona is wrapped in cellophane and electrical tape or duct tape and hidden in vehicles.
- In the past 2 years, numerous seizures in Arizona found methamphetamine co-mingled with loads of cocaine being trafficked into the state.
- Mexican black tar heroin is the predominant type of heroin found in Arizona.
- Heroin is smuggled into Arizona using Arizona's Ports of Entry, by pedestrians, or in hidden compartments of vehicles.
- Phoenix, Arizona continues to have the greatest availability of heroin in the state.
- Heroin is the least abused of all drugs in Arizona. However, the availability continues to increase in Arizona as the demand increases in the U.S.
- The Phoenix Field Division in Arizona has not yet encountered the "starter form" of heroin known as "Cheese" which is directed to school aged children.
- Arizona continues to experience a rise in the abuse of prescription drugs such as OxyContin. Oxycodone products are opiate agonists, like heroin and methadone, and produce an intense high similar to heroin.
- High School students in the Phoenix, Arizona area are switching to the injection or smoking of heroin after no longer being able to purchase or acquire OxyContin.
- In Arizona, locally produced and Mexican-produced methamphetamine is available.
- Mexican-produced methamphetamine in Arizona is the most predominant type encountered in the state and is frequently smuggled across the Mexico/Arizona border.
- Locally produced methamphetamine in Arizona is made in small quantities for local consumption.
- Arizona serves as a major distribution hub, staging area and transshipment point for Mexican methamphetamine smuggled across the border. It is then distributed to domestic cities throughout the U.S., specifically Midwest cities.
- Marijuana remains widely available in Arizona, available in quantities up to multi-hundred pounds packaged for delivery.
- Hundred pound quantities of marijuana are routinely seized in Arizona, mainly between the Ports of Entry and abandoned loads in remote sites along the border.
- Marijuana is smuggled into Arizona using individuals also known as "mules", who are paid to carry loads on their backs through remote wilderness.
- Large scale Marijuana traffickers utilize tractor-trailers as well as refrigerated utility trailers to transport loads of marijuana through established U.S. routes. Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona are commonly used to stash the loads until they are ready to be sent to their final destination.
- Oxycodone products such as OxyContin and Percocet, and Hydrocodone products such as Vicodin continue to be a significant problem in Arizona.
- Current investigations in Arizona indicate the illegal sale and distribution of Oxycodone and Hydrocodone products is occurring through healthcare professionals and workers, "doctor shopping", forged prescriptions, employee theft and the Internet.
- In Arizona in 2007, 42 incidents of thefts from pharmacies, specifically for OxyContin type products, occurred.
- Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax), codeine, Dilaudid and methadone were identified as being among the most commonly abused pharmaceuticals in Arizona.
- It is estimated that over 50 percent of new admissions for drug addiction treatment to methadone clinics in the Phoenix, Arizona area are attributed to pharmaceutical controlled substances.
- Vicodin, Lortab and other hydrocodone and oxycodone products as well as benzodiazapenes and codeine products are the most abused pharmaceutical controlled substances in Arizona.
- In Arizona, the use of Soma in combination with Ultram and Nubain continue to be highly abused prescription-only substances.
- Abuse of pharmaceuticals in Arizona occurs through prescription fraud, forgeries, bogus call-ins and doctor-shoppers.
- The Pheonix Division in Arizona continues to investigate thefts of pharmaceuticals which are in-transit to pharmacies and distributors, as well as reports of thefts by employees and robberies of pharmacies.
- Prescription controlled drugs are regularly trafficked into Arizona from Mexico, and Internet shipments of controlled substances from foreign source websites are on-going.
- The Phoenix Diversion Group in Arizona is investigating prescriptions being shipped from internet websites.
- Drug proceeds continue to be seized on Arizona highways, and cash seizures in other parts of the U.S. are being linked to groups operating in Arizona. Hiding bulk currency in passenger cars and rental vehicles remains the most common method of transporting this bulk drug money.
- In 1995 a program was created known as the DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams, or "MET". This was in response to the overwhelming problem of drugs and drug-related crimes across the nation. Since the inception of the MET, there have been 24 MET deployments in the state of Arizona: Eloy/Pinal, Bullhead City, Prescott, Lake Havasu City, Sierra Vista, Apache County, Coconino County, Navajo County, Payson, Show Low, Glendale, Tombstone, Maricopa County, Cottonwood, Avondale, Maryvale, Scottsdale, Cochise County, Peoria, Navajo County, Mojave County, Surprise ,Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community.
- The following five MET deployments in Arizona targeted methamphetamine trafficking organizations: Navajo County, Mojave County, Surprise , Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community.
- There were 965 drug violation arrests made in Arizona in 2007, which is on par with the prior year in which 1,051 arrests were made. Prior to this there had been a steady increase in arrests in Arizona in the previous 3 years.
- Law enforcement agencies in the Nogales, Arizona area continue to receive information regarding the use of subterranean tunnels to transfer both narcotics and undocumented migrants from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico into the United States. The tunnels usually tie into the drainage system and at least 30 tunnels have been discovered between 1990 and 2008.
- Gaps in the Mexico/Arizona border fences and open areas with no barriers at all are used by drug traffickers and others who wish to enter the United States illegally.
- The Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation stretches 90 miles across southern Arizona along the Mexican border, encompassing 2,773,357 acres. It's location and the limited law enforcement personnel working on the reservation, make this area a primary transit point for narcotics being smuggled from Mexico into Arizona and then trafficked in the United States.