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Utah, home to five stunning national parks and all kinds of natural beauty, is a gem of a tourist destination. For visitors as well as for those that call the Beehive State home, there are endless opportunities available for skiing, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Additionally, there is the Great Salt Lake, the Sundance Film Festival, and major urban centers like Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden. The enormous state has been experiencing significant growth in population as more Americans have found themselves open to going west.
Notably, a clear majority of Utahans are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No other state in the U.S. features a majority of the population belonging to just one church, so Utah is not only considered to be religious but also particularly pious given that Mormons tend to have strict moral stances.
Despite the strong influence of Mormonism, Utah is not without its struggles. Given that most Mormons do not consume alcohol, the state has extremely low rates of alcohol consumption. However, there are certain drug-related problems in Utah, and the national opioid epidemic has actually struck there particularly hard.
Sometimes it requires taking a close look at statistics to see serious problems in places where one might least expect. The opioid crisis in Utah in recent years is one such example. Here are some statistics that paint a picture of the problem:
According to the Utah Department of Health, the Beehive State ranked 7th highest in the U.S. in terms of the rate of drug overdose deaths from 2013-2015.
While the most recent data available from the CDC indicate that Utah has improved in terms of this ranking in 2016, Utah still had a shockingly high 22.4 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people in that year.
The 2016 overdose death rate for Utah is still above the national average, and ranked 20th in the nation.
Going back to 2000, overdose deaths in Utah from prescription drugs increased 400%.
Even though rates related to prescribing opioids have steadily declined from unbelievable highs over the past ten years, 70.4 per 100,000 people in Utah were prescribed opioids in 2016, which means there is still a pathway for otherwise non-addicted people to become addicted from their own or from others' prescriptions.
In 2017, in response to the continuing opioid epidemic in Utah, the state government pumped $5.5 million to go after the problem.
Even though alcohol consumption is far less common in Utah than it is in most other states, the rates of binge drinking for those in Utah who do consume alcohol are consistent with national averages.
It is often easy to look at a place like Utah and not see that many people there are plagued with the same problems that afflict hundreds of thousands of people nationwide. While Utah is different from other states in certain ways that might make drug addiction and abuse less of a problem, there are other factors that ensure the crisis will continue to impact its residents.
Well-intentioned people in pain will continue to get access to prescription opioids from well-meaning doctors. In many of these cases, this will lead to overdoses or to obtaining illegal alternatives like heroin. Additionally, Utah is situated in a part of the country into which drug traffickers from south of the border can easily push their products.
Even though this might sound frightening, particularly for those who are struggling with any type of drug dependency or abuse in Utah, countless resources and treatment options are available. All of those in need can get the help that works before it is too late.
Substance abuse counseling approach
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Brief intervention approach
12-step facilitation approach
Contingency management motivational incentive
Dialectical behavioral therapy
Rational emotive behavioral therapy
Community reinforcement plus vouchers
Cash or self-payment
Private health insurance
Federal or any government funding for substance abuse programs
State financed health insurance plan other than Medicaid
Military insurance e.g. TRICARE
Access to recovery ATR voucher
IHS Tribal Urban ITU funds
No payment accepted
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