Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona

As the drug pours into the state, an epidemic of addiction threatens a generation of young people, their families and friends.

Heroin’s Deadly Toll

More Arizona teens and young adults are now using heroin and all too often overdosing.

Road to Arizona: Heroin trafficking impacts communities

Addicts see heroin as an alternative to costly pain pills, making it a profitable prize for smugglers.

Many young addicts started using in their teens and 20s

Users tell Cronkite News they didn’t care about family, jobs or school. Only their next fix.

Arizona officials say overdose deaths on the rise at startling rate

The Centers for Disease Control also reported a nationwide increase last year from 2,679 in 2011 to 3,635 in 2012.

Heroin love affair: A couple fights addiction on a daily basis

They met after getting clean two years ago, but repeated relapses threaten their lives and future.

Tucson: Proximity to border makes the city an epicenter for Arizona’s heroin epidemic

A little more than an hour up Interstate 19 from the border, Tucson is inevitably deeply affected by the heroin trade so prevalent in Arizona. A Cronkite News analysis of state data shows five ZIP codes have seen the most overdoses.

Prescott: Locals call it ‘everybody’s hometown,’ but it’s also home to hundreds of addicts trying to recover

Group homes, treatment programs and property crime are up and property values are down in this rural city. Stunning numbers of people are coming to town to try to find sobriety.

Yuma: A city where the promise of drugs is a given and a strong heroin network thrives

Drugs are a given in this border city. Access to the San Luis and Andrade ports of entry promote a street-trafficking culture that is consistent and permeates wide chunks of the city.

West Valley: For parents, a child’s struggle with heroin addiction can be all-consuming

Having a child addicted to heroin has left many Arizona parents struggling for answers and support. Some find help at meetings where parents share stories about the signs of heroin use.

Chandler: A look inside the operations of a family heroin drug cell

Wiretaps and confidential informants allowed law enforcement to build a criminal case against a family that was trafficking and selling heroin in Chandler and other East Valley communities, where the drug’s use has continue to escalate.

Sponsors can be key for those seeking to break heroin’s grip

Ending heroin addiction usually can't be done alone, as nearly all addicts wind up using again. In 12-step programs, former users serving as sponsors guide addicts to recovery. Hear from three former heroin addicts who now are sponsors.

Glendale: For addicts and parents, first steps are key to breaking the grip of heroin

Breaking a heroin addiction affects both users and their friends and families. But what next? And what are the first steps for family and friends?

First responders, hospitals on front lines of Arizona's heroin crisis

When someone overdoses on heroin, it's a race against time for first responders and hospitals to revive them. Learn about the struggle from the perspectives of overdose survivors, paramedics and emergency room workers.

Frequent problem: Over-prescribing of painkillers commonly leads to addiction

Doctors are prescribing painkillers far more frequently and experts say this addiction can lead to heroin use. Most heroin addicts admit they first abused pain pills.

Effects of heroin on the body and mind

This visualization by Cronkite’s New Media Innovation Lab takes you through the way heroin works on your brain and on its ultimate outcome, including addiction and, in many cases, the ways its use can prove fatal.

Your body on heroin: Addicts call heroin the most euphoric of drugs.

The deadly drug drives dopamine levels and induces feelings of pleasure strong enough to be continually described as “euphoric” by users — a high better and cheaper than anything else on the street.

Slaying a dragon: Successful treatment often eludes young users

A new generation of heroin addicts has emerged. They are young, white and suburban. But the hallmarks of youth, their risk taking and impulsive behavior, do not lend themselves to treatment.

The conversation: When, how to talk with kids about heroin, other drugs

For parents, it’s never too early to begin talking with children about heroin and other drugs. Explore when and how to have these conversations in this video Q&A with experts from NotMyKid and

Heroin overdoses: By the numbers

The data presented is drawn from a Cronkite News analysis of public records from the 2009-2013 Arizona Hospital Discharge Data Set, gathered by the Bureau of Public Health Statistics, Arizona Department of Health Services.

Graphic novel

Download a graphic novel on the history of heroin prepared by Cronkite’s New Media Innovation Lab. It will be useful for teachers. It is available on the iTunes App Store.

Download on the Apple App Store

HOOKED resource guide

Resources and places to go for help for addicts and families.