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Over 700 Arizonans Died In Suspected Opioid-Related Deaths in 2017

More than 700 people in Arizona are believed to have died from opioid-related overdoses in 2017, according to end-of-the-year numbers from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Two thousand seventeen was the first time state health officials began tracking opioid overdose data in real time. The initial results reveal that there were nearly 5,000 suspected opioid-related overdoses since mid-June. About 15 percent were fatal.

The majority of overdoses were clustered around the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas. Most of them happened inside a personal residence, not a health-care facility or public place.

Over the past six months, the number of overdoses reported weekly has ranged from 100 to more than 250. The state aims to reduce the number of overdose deaths by 25 percent in the next five years.

Lawmakers are expected to take up legislation this year in response to the opioid epidemic, which Gov. Doug Ducey has declared a public health emergency.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.