Utah is well known for the strong moral compass of its people. Family values and healthy living are hallmarks of life in Utah, but that doesn’t mean that its people don’t still make mistakes. For example, 6% of Utah’s residents report that they used an illegal drug over the past month. This is lower than the national average of 8% of all Americans, but it is still a serious problem that cannot be overlooked.
While Utah residents may not use drugs at the same rate as the rest of the country, there are more serious consequences when they do. This is due to the fact that the rate of drug overdose deaths in Utah is actually higher than the national average. In fact, the number of overdose deaths isn’t just higher; it is actually staggering in comparison.
Across the country, 12.7 people per 100,000 die from their drug use. In Utah, that skyrockets to 20.6 people per 100,000. Anyone that wants to figure out where all of these deaths are coming from needs to look at the use of prescription painkillers. These opiate pain pills can be just as powerful as heroin, but they are prescribed to hundreds of thousands of the state’s residents.
State officials have taken notice of Utah’s high rate of overdose deaths. According to the Deseret News, Utah has the 22nd highest pain pill prescription rate, but it has the 5th highest number of overdose deaths. This means that the number of deaths is completely out of proportion to the number of drugs that are being prescribed.
In order to change this trend, the state of Utah has received a $1,000,000 grant from the US Centers for Disease Control to research the source of the problem and to evaluate how well state laws have addressed it. The grant recognizes that drug abuse issues such as overdoses cannot be handled effectively at a national level. Individual states and the communities within them have to work to stop more painkiller users from dying.
Even more important than evaluating state laws is treating individual drug users. Each Utah resident that abuses prescription painkillers needs access to effective rehabilitation treatment. By helping addicts to get over drug abuse on a one-on-one basis, we can start to cut down on the number of people that are using drugs to the point that they eventually die from their abuse.
Helping prevent addiction and overdose deaths starts with the friends and family members of addicts taking a stand to stop drug abuse before it gets even worse than it already is. If you know someone that has started using drugs, call Solution to Addiction at 1-800-343-0892 for help. The professionals at Solution to Addiction can help you evaluate your loved one’s drug abuse situation and decide on the best course of action for getting your loved one help that will actually work.