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Reporting on science, technology and innovation in Arizona and the Southwest through a collaboration from Arizona NPR member stations. This project is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.Additional stories from the Arizona Science Desk are posted at our collaborating station, KJZZ:

HRSA Awards $3M to Fight Opioid Crisis in Rural Counties

The Health Resources and Services Administration recently awarded $3 million to rural communities in eight states to reduce opioid overdoses.  Maya Springhawk Robnett of the Arizona Science Desk reports…

Arizona ranks eighteenth in the nation for opioid-related deaths.  In 2016, 790 Arizonans died from opioid overdoses—an average of more than two people per day. 

Nisha Patel, with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy at the Health Resources and Services Administration, says drug related deaths are 45% higher in rural communities than in urban areas.  

"The stigma in rural [areas] is far more significant than it is in an urban area." - Nisha Patel, Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

“[It’s] definitely hard for people to be able to access and find treatment,” Patel said. “It’s hard for responders to reach individuals as they’re overdosing because of the geography and the transportation sort of challenges.  But then also the stigma in rural is far more significant than it is in an urban area.”

The funding in Arizona will serve nine rural counties, including Apache, Navajo, and La Paz.  The $3 million will fund education, community outreach, healthcare providers, and distribution of naloxone, the emergency opioid overdose treatment.  But Patel said a main focus of the grant in Arizona will be on women.

“What we’ve learned from our research in rural is that while men are using opioids more, women are dying more,” Patel explained.

In June, Governor Doug Ducey declared a statewide health emergency in response to the opioid crisis.

Related Links:

Opioid Overdose Death Rates and All Drug Overdose Death Rates per 100,000 Population:,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

CDC Stats on Opioid Prescribing in the U.S.:

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's Declaration of a Statewide Health Emergency: