If you or someone you know may have overdosed on opioids,
call 9-1-1 or the Utah Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately!
Calling is free and confidential.
Since 2000, the U.S. has seen a large increase in opioid drug misuse resulting in elevated numbers of overdose cases and deaths. These numbers have reached epidemic levels and drug poisoning is currently the leading cause of deaths due to injuries for adults in the U.S. Drug poisoning deaths have outpaced deaths due to firearms, falls, and motor vehicle crashed in Utah (1).
Utah has ranked top 10 in the nation for overdose deaths over the last 10 years. Between 2013-2015, Utah ranked 7th in the U.S. for drug poisoning deaths, which have outpaced deaths due to firearms, falls, and motor vehicle crashes (2). Currently, opioid overdose deaths are highest in Carbon, Emery, Duchesne, Juab, Weber, Salt Lake, and Tootle counties, where rates are above the state average of 20.3 deaths per 100,000 population.
Opioids should not be chosen first to treat pain, alternatives such as physical therapy, non-narcotic medication, and acupuncture can treat pain and increase functionality/mobility better than opioids. Opioids are highly addictive; you can become physically dependent on opioids within seven days of taking them.
Opioids can change the brain chemistry building a tolerance to opioids thus needing higher doses to have the same effect.
Opioid overdose is an increased risk if you:
- Are taking high dose opioids for an extended amount of time.
- Are taking benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Alprazolam
- Combine opioids with alcohol
- Have a history of substance use disorder
- Have respiratory illness
- Inject opioids
Before being prescribed an opioid as your doctor these five questions:
- Am I at risk for addiction?
- How long will I taking them for?
- Am I on the lowest dose possible?
- Do you have a plan to taper me off?
- Will something else work?
Store opioid medications safely, keep them in a locked place if possible. Do not hold on the extra opioids, dispose of them at a local dropbox, to find one go to useonlyasdirected.org
Naloxone Saves Lives
On December 8, 2016 the executive director of the Utah Department of Health signed a statewide standing order allowing to dispense naloxone, without a prior prescription, to anyone at increased risk of experiencing or witnessing an overdose. Through this standing order, anyone can walk into a pharmacy and purchase naloxone without a prescription. Click here to full list of locations offering naloxone in stock.
If you call 911, you are protected from legal charges concerning that person, the overdose, and any side effects of naloxone, because you are trying to save a life. However, you must remain at the scene and comply with medical providers and law enforcement. If you leave the person without calling 911 and that person dies, you can be charged with his or her death. See Utah’s Good Samaritan Law and Overdose Reporting Amendment for more information.
Who should have Naloxone:
- Anyone prescribed opioid medication(s) (morphine, methadone, burenorphone, hydrocodone, oxycodone) for chronic or acute pain
- Anyone with family or friends who are prescribed an opioid medication(s)
- Anyone who uses heroin or other opioids
- Anyone with family or friends who use heroin or other opioids
- Anyone taking medications treating depression or depressive substances like alcohol in conjunction with opioids
- Anyone recently released from prison, detox, or substance use treatment (even after a few days, a persons tolerance for opioids decreases significantly)
- Anyone injecting opioids
Using a public health approach to address this problem works.
From 2000 to 2015, Utah has experienced a nearly 400% increase in deaths from the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs (3, 4). In response to this, the Utah Department of Health was awarded state funding to address the opidemic. Since then, Utah has seen a significant decrease in prescription opioid deaths. However, an increase in heroin related deaths has significantly increased. Utah Department of Health dispensing of naloxone under the standing order, as well as increased efforts to distribute free Narcan ® to community clinics, substance use treatment facilities, syringe exchange programs, methadone clinics, and community organizations, has contributed to saving lives since 2016. Evidence supports that a sustainable, comprehensive public health approach results in significant decreases in preventable opioid overdose deaths and save lives each year in Utah.
In Utah, the top five circumstances observed in prescription opioid-related deaths were (3):
- 65% substance abuse problem (Substance abuse problems include those in which the individual was noted as using illegal drugs, abusing prescription medications, or regularly using inhalants at the time of death.)
- 62% diagnosed mental illness
- 61% physical health problem
- 16% history of alcohol dependence or problem
- 10% history of suicide attempt
Signs of an opioid overdose
- Pale face, blue lips/fingernails
- Limp body
- Slow or no breathing
- No response after physical stimulation (rub hard in the middle of the person’s chest)
- Pinpoint pupils
- Slow heart rate
- Low blood pressure
Additional information can be found at naloxone.utah.gov
- Utah Death Certificate Database, Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Utah Department of Health: 1999- 2015 data queried via Utah’s Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health (IBIS-PH) [cited 2017 January].
- Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online]. (2013-2015). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC (producer). [cited 2017 January].
- Utah Violent Death Reporting System.
- Utah Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Program Prescription Medication Program Database.
- Utah Department of Health Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.