Utah generally has the reputation of being one of the most family-focused states, with most residents placing a high value on family life and traditional values. However, this reputation has not prevented the rising tide of drug addiction and overdose rates to take hold in the state, and opioid addiction in Utah appears to be a continually worsening issue.
Additionally, some lifestyle trends in Utah, including the high Mormon population, may actually be worsening the issue. This notion may seem counterintuitive given the religion’s strict stance on substance use.
Rising Death Toll in Utah
In 2015, an average of 24 Utah citizens died every month from opioid overdoses. From 2013 to 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Utah seventh in the nation for drug overdose deaths.
The issue isn’t constrained to a particular area or demographic. People from all income brackets, ethnic backgrounds and financial situations have suffered the ill effects of the opioid epidemic, spurring the federal government to deploy several million dollars in additional funding to fight the opioid crisis in the state.
In Salt Lake County, about 59 percent of opioid users were unemployed, while 13.6 percent held full-time jobs. In Summit County, one of the most affluent areas of Utah, only one-third of opioid users held full-time employment, and 23 percent either worked part-time or not at all.
Health insurance coverage for substance abuse is another problem in the state, with as many as 80 percent of opioid users within a county having no coverage for treatment, such as in the case of Wasatch County. Addiction help in Utah isn’t accessible for everyone struggling with opioid dependency.
Paths to Addiction and Overdose
The trends in Utah mirror those found throughout the country when it comes to opioid abuse and rising overdose death rates:
- In 2000, the number of prescription opioid-related deaths in Utah was only about 60.
- By 2012, that number dramatically increased to more than 250, and it stayed that high or higher through 2015. (Many other states in the country have reported similar trends.)
- Since 2000, prescription drug deaths in Utah have increased 400 percent.
Researchers and law enforcement officials have highlighted one cause for concern when it comes to opioid abuse in Utah. While most residents consider “street” drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine to be taboo, they may view bottled drugs prescribed by doctors as harmless and safe, not realizing the high risk of addiction and overdose these drugs carry.
The vast majority of people developing opioid addictions today are ones who start taking opioids with a legitimate prescription. They gradually build tolerance and require more of the drug to achieve the desired effect.
Opioid Addiction in Utah Leading to Accidental Deaths
Although there have been some declines seen in prescription death rates in Utah over the last few years, heroin-related deaths have increased in that same time frame.
Unfortunately, people who do not have access to substance abuse treatment or healthy alternatives to prescription opioids will turn to heroin as a substitute.
Prescription opioids like OxyContin are very expensive on the black market, while a dose of heroin can be as little as $5. Prescription opioid abuse can easily lead to heroin abuse in a very short time.
Overdose deaths in Utah are often accidental. For example, if an older individual takes one opioid pill per day before bed and forgets that he or she already took a dose, he or she may mistakenly double dose. This is potentially life-threatening, especially at night, as opioids can cause respiratory depression.
The Utah Department of Health reports that most overdose deaths involve individuals who suffer from chronic pain and take prescribed medications.
Answers to Opioid Addiction in Utah
It may be difficult for some Utah residents struggling with addiction to admit their problems and seek help. Utah has a very high Mormon population, and illicit drug use is taboo in their religion.
However, they view prescribed medications as safe and acceptable, leading some to believe their prescription opioids are safer than they truly are. They may also feel ashamed or frightened at the idea of ostracism for admitting their addiction. Anyone seeking a trauma recovery center or a substance abuse treatment program may not find the right answer within Utah.
Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona
Reflections Recovery Center is a substance abuse treatment facility in Prescott, Arizona. This means it could be a perfect solution for anyone in Utah seeking addiction treatment.
For anyone living in Utah who is finding it difficult to locate the right long-term addiction treatment, AZ can offer a fantastic setting for recovery only a short trip away. Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona can provide hope using both time-tested treatment methods and the latest holistic therapies that you’ll be hard-pressed to find at most other facilities.