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Record overdose deaths in Pima County

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TUCSON (KVOA) - The United States is on pace to see its highest number of overdose deaths ever since record-keeping began. That statistic is true here locally, according to the Pima County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control.

Holidays can be a stressful time of year. Family, Christmas shopping, traveling and the list goes on. Throw 2020 in there along with drugs and it can be a deadly combination.

"The level of uncertainty and anxiety that people are experiencing," said Counselor Kathryn Robey.

But it does not stop there. 2020 has brought a lot of isolation for many people.

"...And loneliness. I mean it is just compounding a number of things that people would rather shield themselves, to be honest. Substances can help numb those feelings and help us not have to hurt as bad if that is what our story is," explained Robey.

Those substances could turn into an addiction.

"Fentanyl and Methamphetamine. So we have seen Fentanyl skyrocket in Southern Arizona in the past few years," said Pima County Medical Examiner Dr. Greg Hess.

In 2019, 337 people died due to a drug overdose.

"In 2020, we are at 419," said Dr. Hess.

Dr. Hess told News 4 Tucson, that number is expected to go up with delayed toxicology results.

Most in-person counseling and A.A. meetings have been canceled due to the pandemic. But experts said, there is a silver lining.

"One thing that has come from this pandemic is the fact we are connecting in very different ways. There is a meeting at any given day at any moment," said Robey.

If your loved one is struggling with addiction, experts said, the best thing to do is ask.

"And asking no really, how are you doing? I think a lot of us could really use that right now."

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Allie Potter

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