The Arizona Mirror debunked Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s assertion that fentanyl overdoses are the state’s most significant cause of death.
On Sunday, Lake said at a rally in Mesa with former president Donald Trump that fentanyl was the “number one cause of mortality” for persons aged 18 to 45 and that more than 4,000 people in Arizona had died from fentanyl overdoses.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid much more potent than other commonly abused opioids, has contributed to an uptick in drug overdose deaths on a national and local scale.
According to the CDC, synthetic opioid overdoses accounted for 1,108 fatalities in 2020, making them the second top cause of mortality for people aged 18 to 45 in the state. About 2,240 people in that age range in Arizona perished in accidents that year. One-third of all deaths are due to suicide.
Although the term “synthetic opioid” in the database can also refer to tramadol and other pharmaceuticals, fentanyl has become the synthetic opioid of choice for illicit users because of its low price and high availability.
Lake compared the deaths caused by fentanyl in the state to those caused by the September 11th terrorist attacks and COVID-19 in an interview with CBS News.
Lake stated on Meet the Press that “we are losing more people to fentanyl in Arizona since Joe Biden took office than 9/11 or during COVID.”
Arizona has suffered the loss of 31,406 residents due to COVID, whereas the 9/11 terrorist attacks claimed the lives of 2,977 people. While the CDC recorded 1,476 deaths in Arizona due to synthetic opioids in 2020, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 3,888 overdose deaths due to artificial and non-synthetic opioids, of which 94.5% were prescription-related.
The Mirror sought clarification from the Lake campaign but received no response.
Fentanyl use and trafficking have increased dramatically in Arizona in recent years. In a single investigation last year, Scottsdale police and the Arizona attorney general’s office collected almost 10 kilos of fentanyl powder and 1.7 million fentanyl tablets.
More than 3 million fentanyl tablets and 45 kilos of fentanyl powder were recovered by the Drug Enforcement Administration in Phoenix over two months in 2021, and 40 people were arrested as a result.
Across the U.S.-Mexico border, it is now the most trafficked drug, surpassing heroin for the first time. Health officials in Pima County have started handing out test strips so locals can see if their medications contain the opioid fentanyl.
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