PCAO marks National Fentanyl Awareness Day

(FLORENCE, AZ, May 9th, 2023) - The Pinal County Attorney’s Office is charging a record number of fentanyl cases this year, continuing an alarming uptick that makes awareness of the drug and its accessibility of paramount importance.

Tuesday, May 9th , is National Fentanyl Awareness Day, a chance to spotlight the dangers of the drug and raise awareness about its prevalence.

In 2023, Arizona has seen more than 290 confirmed opioid deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“The fentanyl crisis is helping to destroy our communities, and I am heartbroken and tired of seeing so many lives, both young and old, cut short because of this drug,” said County Attorney Kent Volkmer.

The Pinal County Attorney’s Office has seen a steady increase in the number of fentanyl cases prosecuted in the County.

The numbers, broken down by fiscal year, are as follows:

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019:  9
July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020:  52
July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021: 150
July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2022: 300
July 1, 2022 - May 8, 2023: 344 (still nearly two months to go)

“This increase is alarming and results in tragic consequences,” Volkmer said. “I beg of you, please have these conversations with your kids and loved ones; emphasize how prevalent this drug has become and if a pill doesn’t come from the pharmacy, you have no idea what you are taking.”

To that point, fentanyl is often mixed into others pills and substances, leaving the person who consumes it unaware of the potentially fatal dose of the synthetic opioid.

"It' really important to me that we make this very real for people to understand that this can happen,” said Amy Neville, whose son died after unknowingly ingesting fentanyl.

Neville worked with PCAO in 2022 to highlight her story in hopes of raising awareness for other families about the dangers of fentanyl.

You can find additional information and resources through the Fentanyl Awareness Day website.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a national hotline for treatment referral and information. That number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The Arizona Department of Health Services has a list of community resources for opioid addiction treatment both in Arizona and nationally.