Severe overdose deaths in Pima County

TUCSON (KVOA) – The United States is on track to see the highest number of overdose deaths since records began. That statistic is true here locally, according to the Pima County Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

Holidays can be a stressful time of year. Family, Christmas shopping, travel and the list goes on. Play 2020 there along with the drugs and it can be a deadly combination.

“The level of uncertainty and anxiety that people are experiencing,” said Counselor Kathryn Robey.

But does not stop there. 2020 brought a lot of isolation for many people.

“… And loneliness. I mean, it’s just the composition of a number of things that people prefer to protect themselves, to be honest. Substances can help to numb these feelings and help us not to have to hurt ourselves so much if that’s our story, “explained Robey.

These substances can become an addiction.

“Fentanyl and methamphetamine. So we have seen Fentanyl skyrocket in southern Arizona in recent years,” said Pima County medical examiner Dr. Greg Hess.

In 2019, 337 people died from a drug overdose.

“In 2020, we are in 419,” said Dr. Hess.

Dr. Hess told News 4 Tucson, that number is expected to increase with the delay in toxicology results.

Most personal counseling and AA meetings have been canceled due to the pandemic. But experts said there was a silver lining.

“One thing that resulted from this pandemic is the fact that we are connecting in very different ways. There is a meeting any day, any time, ”said Robey.

If your loved one is struggling with addiction, experts say, the best thing to do is ask.

“And asking no, really, how are you? I think a lot of us could really use that now.”