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One might think that because Arizona shares a common border with the country of Mexico, that marijuana use would be the most prevalent form of substance abuse. It may come as a surprise to find out that this is not necessarily true, even with the fact that the State of Sonoro, Mexico, which has long been considered a major location for drug activity and trafficking, lies directly south of Arizona.

Marijuana abuse does exist; a survey taken reported that 263 Arizona residents admitted to marijuana use for a total of 5.4% of those who participated in the overall survey. Of the 263 Arizona residents, 73.3% were male; 26.7% were female. The most widely-used substance of abuse was alcohol. 1,359 Arizona residents surveyed reported alcohol use; of those, 185 admitted to using alcohol and other drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine (meth).

Males comprised 77.3% of those who used alcohol only, and 74.5% of those who used alcohol as well as other drugs. 22.7% of female Arizona residents admitted to using alcohol alone, while 25.5% admitted to using both alcohol and other drugs.

Of the other substances of abuse, cocaine use by smoking was reported by 59.5% of males and 40.5% of females. Cocaine that was taken into the body via another route-injection or snorting for instance-was used by 70.5% of men and 29.5% of women.

Marijuana was reported as being used by 263 Arizona residents-73.3% male, 26.7% female. Heroin use was admitted to by 765 residents, of which 66.5% were male and 33.5% were female. The two most abused forms of heroin in Arizona are Mexican black tar heroin and brown powder heroin. Research further shows that street prices for heroin showed a decline, especially in 2004, which unfortunately means that supplies are plentiful. Further, it has been discovered that the purity level of the available heroin has increase significantly.

A higher purity level has the propensity to make an already dangerous drug even more dangerous. It is easier to overdose on heroin that has a higher quality of purity than on heroin that has been "cut", or mixed with other, usually harmless ingredients, such as baking soda, flour, or similar substances.

One of the more sobering statistics regarding heroin, however, is the fact that at the time the statistics used here were compiled, in Phoenix, the presence of heroin in public schools was showing an increase. This means that more of this highly addictive drug is getting into the hands of our children.

Substance abuse admissions to drug and alcohol treatment centers in Arizona, for all areas of substance abuse do seem to show some encouraging numbers. A study of the numbers seems to indicate that approximately one-third of those who admit to some type of substance abuse or addiction did seek treatment for the problem.

The age ranges of those who underwent addiction treatment indicate that those who sought treatment the most were between the ages of 21 and 40 years. The highest number of Arizona residents who took advantage of the drug and alcohol treatment centers in Arizona fell into the 36 and 40 year old age category.

From these and the other figures, it would seem that the State of Arizona is making a very concerted effort to provide its residents of all ages with treatment options for substance abuse and addiction. Perhaps as time goes on, all of Arizona's statistics pertaining to drug and alcohol abuse as well as treatment will see a decline in the number of users, and a continuing rise in the number of those who wish to live a drug- or alcohol-free life and have taken the necessary steps to accomplish this goal. Perhaps, too, there will be significant changes for the better in the problem of heroin use and the prevalence of heroin in the public schools, not only in Phoenix but in all public schools in Arizona.


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