There was a 400 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in Utah (between 2000-2015).
When it comes to opioid addiction, prevention and treatment can make a difference. (Source: Utah Department of Health’s Violence & Injury Prevention Program)
Learn how to properly dispose of your unused or expired prescription medication. Read more.
Naloxone acts in less than 2 minutes and completely eliminates all signs of opioid intoxication to reverse an opioid overdose. Learn more.
Controlled prescription drugs
The abuse of prescription medication has been a serious issue in the state for a while. But now, unfortunately, users are turning to the cheaper and more potent opioids heroin and fentanyl to get high.
Nationwide, among new heroin users, 75 percent report having abused prescription opioids before using heroin.1
Utah’s Problem: Prescription Drug Misuse
For more than a decade, the misuse of prescription painkillers has been a significant problem in Utah. Between 2000 and 2015, the state experienced a 400 percent increase in deaths due to prescription drugs.2
In the past year, 117,000 Utahans over the age of 12 misused pain relievers within the last year, according to data from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.3
The epidemic may have been fueled by overprescribing. Doctors in the state wrote opioid prescriptions at a rate higher than the national average in 2015.4
While prescription opioid deaths in the state dipped in 2016, the number of heroin deaths has been steadily increasing in recent years.4 Unfortunately, 80 percent of current heroin users start off by misusing prescription meds.
Opioid Misuse: Three Waves
Nationwide, the opioid epidemic occurred in three waves (according to the CDC)5:
First wave - Painkiller prescriptions. In the 1990s there was a sharp increase in the prescribing of opioid based painkillers, resulting in an increase in the amount deadly overdoses towards the end of the decade
Second wave – Heroin overdoses. Beginning in 2010, heroin overdoses increased nationwide. Many heroin users started off using painkillers.
Third wave – Rise of synthetic opioids. Significant increases in overdoses involving synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl) started around 2013.
For decades, the number of fatal opioid overdoses nationwide had been steadily increasing, according to numbers from the National Vital Statistics System. But in 2018, the number of overall opioid deaths dropped to 46,802.
Unfortunately, the number of deaths from synthetic opioids - like fentanyl - continues to rise. Between 2017 and 2018, synthetic opioid deaths increased 9%.
Drug Overdoses in Utah
Between 2000 and 2015, the state experienced a 400 percent increase in deaths due to prescription drug misuse. In 2016, the prescription drug misuse deaths decreased, but heroin deaths increased. This could be a cause for concern, since 80 percent of heroin users started off by misusing prescription drugs.
1“Prescription Drug Overdoses.” Violence & Injury Prevention Program: Utah Department of Health. Source: http://health.utah.gov/vipp/topics/prescription-drug-overdoses/
3“Utah Opioid Summary.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/utah-opioid-summary
Hedegaard H, Warner M, Miniño AM. Drug overdose deaths in the United States, 1999–2018. NCHS Data Brief, no 294. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2017/ CDC. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2016. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db356_tables-508.pdf#3
“Prescription Drug Overdoses.” Violence & Injury Prevention Program: Utah Department of Health. Source: http://health.utah.gov/vipp/topics/prescription-drug-overdoses/
- There was a 400 percent increase in drug overdose deaths between 2000 and 2015.
- Over 9 percent of Utah teens surveyed admitted to misusing a prescription painkiller one or more times during their life.
- 24 people die every month from prescription drug overdose in Utah.
- The vast majority of teens do not use heroin. In a 2018 national survey, only 0.4% of 12th graders used heroin in the past year.
- 96.4% of 12th graders disapprove of taking heroin occasionally.
- In 2016, over 600,000 people (12 or older) reported having a heroin use disorder.
PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE:
- Prescription opioid analgesics, specifically those containing oxycodone and hydrocodone, are the most common types of prescription drugs that are diverted for misuse and abused.
- Each day in the United States, over 192 people die as a result of a drug overdose.
- In 2017, an estimated 3.2 million people (aged 12 or older) reported past month misuse of opioid pain relievers.
- 53% of nonmedical users (12 years or older) reported receiving the prescription drugs they most recently used “from a friend or relative for free.”
- Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine.
- The death rate of synthetic opioids other than methadone, jumped by 72.2% from 2014 to 2015.
- During 2016 alone there were almost 29,000 reports of fentanyl (up from 1,041 reports in 2013).
Explore common misconceptions about opioids through the voices of teens. Go to Operation Prevention.
1 Source: Utah Department of Health’s Violence & Injury Prevention Program. View source here.
2 Source: Utah, High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2017. View source here.
3 Source: University of Michigan, 2017 Monitoring the Future Study. View source here.
4Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, September 2017. View source here.
5 Source: Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2013–2017. View source here.
6 Source: Prescription Drug Use and Misuse in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, September 2016. View source here.
7 Source: Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2010–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 16 December 2016. View source here.
WILLIAM “WILL” CHRISTIAN DOERHOFF, 20
William “Will” Christian Doerhoff, a top-notch student in high school, didn't touch drugs until college. That decision ended up costing him his life. Read more.
Approximately 3.8 million people in the U.S. over the age of 12 received some kind of substance use treatment within the past year, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. But, during that same year, more than 20 million Americans needed treatment. This means about 1 in 13 people over age 12 need substance use treatment. And, among young adults between 18 and 25 years old, 1 in 7 need treatment.
Do you or someone you know need help fighting substance abuse? Don't be afraid to reach out for help.
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has trained professionals to available via phone and online chat to help parents who think their loved one is struggling with addiction. Learn more.
Check out this interactive map on the Utah Department of Human Services website to find drug treatment facilities near you.
This site provides general information about opioids, the opioid epidemic in Utah, local treatment options, and more.
The Utah Pharmaceutical Drug Crime Project (UPDCP) was convened in January 2009 to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in Utah. This multi-disciplinary collaboration invovled more than 60 experts in the fields of substance abuse prevention and treatment, law enforcement, environmental quality, healthcare, and public health.
USARA’s mission is to celebrate, advocate, support, and empower people in all stages of addiction recovery through connecting to resources, building community, and raising awareness that long term recovery is possible.
This website has information about the opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone, and where you can find it in Utah.
This site, from the Utah Department of Health, describes ways the public can prevent prescription drug overdoses.
See local stats about Utah's prescription opioid deaths.
Learn ways to safely use prescription opioids here.
This is the website for Utah's Department of Health Violence & Injury Prevention Program.
Utah Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222)
The Utah Poison Control Center is a 24-hour resource for poison information and education. Calling the Utah Poison Control Center is free and private. Call: 1-800-222-1222.
The University of Utah's Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Epidemiology's Program for Addiction Research, Clinical Care, Knowledge, and Advocacy (PARCKA) was founded in 2018 to improve and address access and quality of healthcare provided to persons who have addictions or who are otherwise medically vulnerable.
The Utah Prevention System is a group of dozens of county-level and small area coalitions working together to conduct prevention work for a better, safer Utah. These coalitions strive to protect our communities, promote positive lifestyles and prevent substance abuse and behavioral health problems.
If you want to get involved in the DEA 360 Strategy you can start by educating yourself on the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic, and then share what you have learned with your family, friends, community, neighbors, etc.
Join a coalition or volunteer with a partnering organization.
Properly dispose of prescription drugs.
If you have prescription drugs that have expired or you no longer need you can deposit them into prescription drop-off boxes located in your community.