Utah is generally known for a few things throughout the country: the greatest snow on earth, the arches in southern Utah, having one of the largest populations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS/Mormons) and having one of the highest natural opioid deaths, in 2015, in the country, according to the Centers for Disease (CDC). How can that be? To learn about Utah opiate abuse, contact Recovery Ways today.
The LDS population in Utah is known for their morals of not partaking in alcohol, tobacco, and other mind-altering substances. So how does someone who has never used an illegal drug, tasted alcohol, or inhaled smoke from a cigarette end up being an opioid addict? They go to their doctor. Painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone are prescribed by licensed doctors to their patients to help cope with pain from injuries obtained through work, sport-related injuries, surgeries, and or other chronic pain conditions.
These injuries and the pain associated with them are real, the prescription for the opioid pain killer is real, and the risk of addiction, overdose, and death are very real. The Utah Department of Health Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System recorded that doctors prescribe 32% of adults 18 years of age and older opioid pain medication in 2014. That means about one-third of the adult Utah population had a prescription for opioid painkillers.
Get Treatment for Opiate Abuse
Dan Snarr, a member of the high priest group leadership within the LDS church, has seen this first hand and has acknowledged the crisis affecting not just LDS members but all Utahns. Carol Moss, an LDS and Democratic State Legislator, agrees that religion plays some part in the spread of opioid addiction simply because these prescribed pain killers have less stigma in the church than alcoholic drinks and tobacco.
According to the CDC, Utah’s opioid overdoses and deaths is an epidemic. 24 people died from prescription drug overdoses every month in Utah from 2012-2014, which is more than deaths due to falls, firearms, and motor vehicle crashes in the same years. In 2014, in Utah, six people per week, died because of overdosing on prescription opioids.
The Utah Violent Death Reporting System says that Carbon/Emery Counties, Taylorsville (East)/Murray (West), and Ogden (Downtown) have a higher prescription opioid death rate compared to the state. From 2000 to 2014, Utah experienced a near 400% increase in deaths from misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. 59% of all prescription pain medications in Utah involved oxycodone in 2014. In 2011-2015 The State of Utah Health Department saw 554 deaths from overdoses.
From Prescribed Pain Pills to Street Heroin
These opiates have overtaken housewives, blue-collar, well-to-do people in Utah’s middle-class and upper-class homes. Today’s addicts in Utah are not just the junkies or homeless people downtown. They are co-workers, spouses, parents, and children in your neighborhood and office. People with no medical degrees go to doctors and put their trust and lives in their hands, not knowing they may in fact be handed the first step to a full-blown addiction.
Soon you develop a tolerance for what you were prescribed, the prescribed dose no longer has the same or desired effect. The doctor prescribes a higher dose or even a stronger opiate and you continue to develop more and more of a tolerance. Before you know it, your doctor can no longer prescribe you enough to get rid of the pain, so you start doctor shopping, going to multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions, or buying pills from dealers. These dealers can charge as much as $80 for just a single pill.
The cheaper solution is to switch to a different, cheaper opiate, heroin. You can buy heroin for just $10 and you don’t even have to leave your house to get it. Dealers now deliver straight to your doorstep. With the increase of opioid addiction there has also been an increase of property and violent crimes. FBI Special Agent Eric Barnhart relayed that 90 percent of armed bank robberies in Utah are connected to heroin addiction.
Combatting Utah Opiate Abuse
State agencies, federal agencies, and Utah health organizations have teamed up to combat this epidemic head-on. In 2014 Utah passed a law that allows police officers, Utah Transit Authorities, and citizens to carry Naloxone. This drug can save the lives of and reverse opioid overdose when given in a timely and proper manner. To address this epidemic, Utah has held multiple rallies, conferences, and other educational summits. One summit brought together law enforcement, policymakers, health care professionals, educators, and members of the general public. Its goal was to educate them on how to handle the death and crime associated with the Utah opiate epidemic.
Help for Opiate Addiction in Utah is Available
Utah opiate abuse can be scary. It can also be a very serious risk to your health and the well-being of your loved ones. If you or a loved one is ready to make a change, speak with one of our admissions coordinators. We treat a variety of addictions, including: