Today, the Utah Opioid Task Force convened to discuss the opioid crisis in Utah and to consider new programs and resources.
Miss it? Listen to the audio here:
Trauma and Suicide Screening and Response
Dr. Brooks Keeshin with the University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospital presented on the link between childhood trauma, suicide, and substance abuse. Keeshin has been working with the Children’s Justice Centers to help screen children at risk and get them the resources they need.
The Appropriate Use of the DEC Exam
Dr. Toni Laskey with the University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospital presented on her work to create more effective medical exams and care for drug endangered children.
Ed DeShields presented on Sober Peer, an upcoming app for those struggling with addiction, powered by an artificial intelligence-driven system that measures recovery, predicts outcomes, and suggests “best”, next steps for treatment.
James Hadlock presented on the need for personal connection in the fight against opioid addiction and mental illness. Additionally, he presented on BluNovus, a company that helps employers connect employees to mental health resources and works to end the stigma.
Farewell to DEA District-Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser
Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes presented an award to DEA District-in-Charge Brian Besser for his incredible work in the fight against the opioid crisis in Utah and in the Opioid Task Force. Besser will head to Washington, D.C. in a new role in the DEA. We congratulate Besser and thank him for all that he has done. He will be dearly missed here, but we look forward to working with him in his new role.
Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined with Riverton
City, Intermountain Riverton Hospital, and the Utah Opioid Task Force this morning
to announce a local solution to the state and national opioid epidemic.
The opioid crisis is a widespread, community issue. It
affects every family, community, and city. Unfortunately, deaths from opioid
overdose in Utah now surpass deaths caused by firearms and vehicles. One of the
best ways to start addressing this epidemic is in the home. Medicine cabinets
are often filled with unused and expired medications that can easily be taken
To address this issue, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs introduced
a new cost efficient, eco-friendly medication disposal program using NarcX.
This safe, easy-to-use liquid solution dissolves pills, tablets, capsules,
liquids and patches immediately on contact, making them non-retrievable. A proprietary
blend of ingredients allows even coated time-release capsules to quickly
disintegrate and become neutralized, and indigestible properties prevent any
attempt at abuse. Large, blue boxes containing NarcX will be placed at
locations throughout Riverton in order to encourage the disposal of unused,
unwanted, and expired medications. Bottles of the solution can also be
purchased from select pharmacies in Riverton and can be placed in the home as
an on-site option for safe and convenient destruction of medicines.
In addition to this new program, the Utah Attorney General’s
Office partners with the DEA for Take Back Day each year. Unused and unwanted
medications are collected across the State of Utah in an effort to prevent drug
addiction and overdose deaths. In the last three years this initiative has been
done in Utah, 90,000 pounds of medications were collected.
“We are all vulnerable to the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Today is the day to make a difference. Let’s take back as many of these unused, unwanted medications as possible.”
This week, the Utah
Opioid Task Force convened for their quarterly meeting to discuss the
opioid crisis in Utah and consider
new programs and resources.
Suicide & Opioid Addiction
Cathy Bledsoe from Hope4Utah
presented to the Opioid Task Force on Hope Squads, a peer suicide prevention
program. Hope Squads are made up of students elected for their
kindness. These students are trained by professionals to watch for at-risk
students and identify warning signs, provide friendship, and seek help from
adults. The Hope Squad model was created in the late 90s by Greg Hudnall, a
principal in the Provo School District who realized that too many lives were
being lost and peers were an important tool in solving the problem. Data from
the Provo School District has shown that these Hope Squads are invaluable in
preventing suicide and that since their creation, student suicides have gone
down. There are now 207 schools in Utah participating in the Hope Squad program,
with new schools joining in all the time.
“Suicide is important to hear and talk about when fighting
the opioid crisis,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “It’s reaching
the root of the problem – that people are in pain and trying to get rid of that
Along with programs like SafeUT, Hope Squads provide support and
resources to students in Utah. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in
youths ages 10-19. Utah alone is ranked 5th in the nation for
The Effect of Opioids on Children
Carrie Jensen from the CJC
Program and Allison Smith from RIC-AAU
urged the importance of understanding the effect that opioids have on children.
When their parents are suffering from addiction, children are at a higher risk
for having emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems. Additionally, Jensen
and Smith discussed the effects that tobacco can have on children. One particularly worrisome issue
is that vape cartridges can be laced with other drugs such as Fentanyl that can
have detrimental effects from addiction to death.
U of U Emergency Opioid Use Disorder Program
Peter Taillac, a Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine
with the University of Utah, and Paula
Cook, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Addiction Medicine with the University
of Utah, presented on the recovery programs provided by the University Neuropsychiatric Institute
(UNI). They explained that
addiction is a chronic illness and needs to be treated this way. Currently,
when opioid users end up in the emergency department due to overdose or a
willingness to get treatment, doctors give them resources and a referral to
treatment, which users rarely follow up on. However, this new model proposes
that emergency room doctors provide opioid addicts with a prescription for
Buprenorphine, a medication that is used to wean users off of opioids, and
schedules a follow-up for the user to meet with counselors at UNI. Users are
also paired up with peer support coaches who have successfully overcome
addiction and are given a case manager. UNI then provides treatment for free to
the user for thirty days, after which they contact a community partner to
provide housing and other resources for recovering addicts. Compared to the
current practice, this model drastically reduces opioid usage of addicts and
increases the number of addicts who continue long-term treatment compared.
While this service is currently only available at the University Hospital,
Professors Taillac and Cook are working with other medical centers to help them
adopt the model.
Best of State – Public Works
This year, the Utah Opioid Task Force was honored to be the
recipient of the 2018 Best
of State Public Works Award. The Best of State Awards recognize outstanding
individuals, organizations and businesses in Utah. More than 100 judges review
the nominations and determine the winners based on achievement in the field of
endeavor, innovation or creativity in approaches, techniques, methods or
processes, and contribution to the quality of life in Utah.
The Utah Opioid Task Force is dedicated to
combatting the opioid epidemic in Utah and works in collaboration with groups
nationally and across the state to address the effects of opioid addiction. You
can help combat the opioid crisis by steering clear of opioids, getting rid of
unused meds, reaching out if you or someone you know is suffering from opioid
addiction, learning to recognize an overdose, and learning how to use a
Naloxone kit. Learn more here.
Part of the Utah Opioid Task Force, co-chaired by Attorney General Sean D. Reyes along with U.S. Senator Mike Lee and DEA District Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser, Utah Naloxone is a game-changer in the fight against opioids in the State of Utah. The Utah Attorney General’s office is proud of the work Utah Naloxone co-founder, Dr. Jennifer Plumb, has accomplished and is privileged to partner with her and her organization as we address the opioid epidemic in our great state.
For Immediate Release
UTAH NALOXONE REACHES MAJOR MILESTONE
SALT LAKE CITY – More than 3,000 people in Utah have a second chance at life thanks to the efforts of Utah Naloxone. All of these individuals were given the medication naloxone (Narcan) during an opioid overdose by a non-medical layperson around them. Naloxone reverses an opioid overdose if given in time, causing the effects of the opioid to reverse and bringing them back. Opioids include pain pills, heroin, and fentanyl.
All of these life-saving doses were administered by non-medical members of our community who obtained rescue kits from Utah Naloxone or one of its Overdose Outreach Provider partners just for this purpose. The recent reports bringing us to this milestone came from our partners at One Voice Recovery (OVR) who work across the state of Utah to educate on substance use disorder, work to decrease stigma, as well as to reduce infectious disease transmission and overdose deaths. These direct community partners are a major contributor to saving lives across Utah.
The number of lives saved by naloxone has been attributed as a large part of why Utah is seeing a decline in the number of opioid deaths. We were one of only seven states in 2017 where the death rate is going down. And as the number of people who are surviving an opioid overdose and making it to an emergency room for care is rising – almost doubling from 2015 to 2017 (1.5/10,000 in 2015 to 2.8/10,000 in 2017). People are saving lives and giving people a chance to survive to make it to an ER which alters outcomes for our state.
There is still work to be done. Overdose is still the leading cause of injury death in the state, and Utah still is among states with a high rate of overdose deaths. If you or someone you know is taking opioids you should have Naloxone on hand in case of an overdose. Naloxone kits are available through Utah Naloxone. It is legal to possess the drug, and legal to administer it if you suspect someone is overdosing on opioids. For more information go to UtahNaloxone.org.
CONTACTS: Jennifer Plumb, MD, MPH Medical Director, Utah Naloxone 801-232-5410 801-696-1139 UtahNaloxone@gmail.com
Patrick Rezac Executive Director, One Voice Recovery 801-696-1139 OneVoiceRecovery@gmail.com
Yesterday, Utah Attorney General’s office Special Agents and staff were trained on how to administer Naloxone in the field by Dr. Jennifer Plumb. Check out the photos below:
The Utah Attorney General’s Office found itself the proud recipient of multiple Best of State awards this year. Those in the Utah AG’s office work hard to uphold the Constitution, enforce the law, and protect the interests of Utah and its people. Our sincere thanks to all those who give their time and energy to help make our office the Best of State.
The Best of State Awards recognize outstanding individuals, organizations and businesses in Utah. More than 100 judges review the nominations and determine the winners based on achievement in the field of endeavor, innovation or creativity in approaches, techniques, methods or processes, and contribution to the quality of life in Utah.
See below for a complete list of the AG’s Best of State 2018 awards.
Elected State Official: Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes
Military Personnel/Unit: Utah@EASE
Public Safety: Investigations Division, Utah AGO
Public Works: Utah Opioid Task Force
Public/Private Partnership: The Utah Children’s Justice Center Program
Publication: Utah AGO White Collar Crime Offender Registry
State Agency/Office: Utah Attorney General’s Office
Victim Advocacy: Attorney General Sean Reyes
Web-based Community Resource: The SafeUT App
The Utah AGO nominated DEA District-Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser for the following award due to his relentless work in combatting the opioid epidemic that has hit Utah both in the metro and rural areas. We are privileged to call him a partner, colleague, and friend.
Public Safety Officer: DEA District-Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser
Yesterday, the Utah Opioid Task Force held a meeting to discuss the opioid crisis in Utah and share resources to aid in the battle against addiction and overdose.
The Effect of Opioids
on Consumers & Children
Mark Jansen from the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business presented to the Utah Opioid Task Force on the indirect effects opioid abuse has on consumer behavior and finances. Some of the principal unseen effects of the opioid crisis are higher default rates and a raised cost of credit for consumers.
Children are also highly impacted by opioids, addictions, and overdoses. Carrie Jensen from the CJC program and Allison Smith on behalf of Utah Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, presented on the high-risk children are at when their parents are suffering from an addiction to opioids. Every 15 minutes in the U.S., a child is born addicted to opioids. Additionally, not only do children do what they see, but drug-endangered children will struggle throughout their lives with emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems.
Naloxone Saves Lives
According to the latest statistics from the DEA, there were 4,714 opioid overdoses in 2018. Dr. Jennifer Plumb with Utah Naloxone stated that more people are surviving these overdoses due to Naloxone, prepared emergency rooms, and Utah Department of Health campaigns. Last month, the Task Force joined with the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office to launch an experimental program to supply Naloxone rescue kits to inmates upon release, and their close support network in an effort to increase needed supplies to those most at risk of an overdose.
Midvale City Police Chief Randy Thomas and Utah CJC Director Tracey Tabet discussed a pilot program for screening processes that identifies children susceptible to addiction and helps them find help early on.
Attorney General Sean D. Reyes discussed emerging technology
that might be used to fight the opioid crisis.
The Utah Opioid Task Force is dedicated to combatting the opioid epidemic in Utah and works in collaboration with groups nationally and across the state to address the effects of opioid addiction. You can help combat the opioid crisis by steering clear of opioids, getting rid of unused meds, reaching out if you or someone you know is suffering from opioid addiction, learning to recognize an overdose, and learning how to use a Naloxone kit. Learn more here.
In a first for the State of Utah, the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office partnered with Utah Naloxone and the Utah Opioid Task Force to launch an experimental program to supply Naloxone rescue kits to inmates upon release, and to their close support network.
Listen in here.
As you might guess, this population is highly at-risk of an overdose. The goal is to make tools available to save more lives and give people a fighting chance at redemption.
This new access program is a result of the combined efforts of people in medicine, public health, law enforcement, criminal justice, and the hundreds of thousands of family members who have either lost someone or are at risk of losing someone to an overdose.
Studies have shown that within the first two weeks of an inmate’s release from incarceration, inmates are 40 times more likely to die of an overdose. The Uintah County Sheriff’s Office, the Utah Opioid Task Force, and Utah Naloxone recognized the importance of supplying this vulnerable population and worked out an innovative solution. If this proves successful, other law enforcement agencies may follow suit.
“This will save lives. I guarantee you. This will save lives that we would have reached no other way,” said Dr. Jennifer Plumb with Utah Naloxone.
While Naloxone kits are already accessible to the public, most people are either unaware or feel uncomfortable purchasing a kit. As of November 1st, 2018, Utah’s Naloxone access program has saved 2608 lives.
Dr. Plumb stressed the importance of educating and equipping the support network of those at-risk of overdose. In some instances, it may take police officers and first responders too long to arrive on the scene in order to administer Naloxone or perform life-saving measures. Educating and supplying family members and friends with Naloxone rescue kits saves lives by allowing a friend or family member to administer the medication, beginning the reversal process quickly, and allowing more time for first responders to arrive.
Lives are irreplaceable. In 2017, 73,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses.
To their credit, the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office understands the importance of finding strategies that work. “We need to get as many kits as we can into as many hands as we can. Just because you’re currently dealing with addiction, doesn’t mean you’re not worth saving,” said Uintah County Sheriff Steve Labrum.
The need to educate and supply people with Naloxone rescue
kits is not reserved to inmates and those close to them. Brian Besser of the
Utah DEA urged the importance of saturation and educating everyone.
“We have to make our churches, our schools, our government
entities, our faith-based institutions, parents, every person walking on the sidewalk
needs to be aware of the efficacy of not only this program but the drug itself,”
One in six kits are used to save a life. If 500 kits were dispersed,
approximately 100 lives could be saved.
“Prevention works, treatment is effective, and people
recover every day, but you can only recover if you’re alive. Too many people
are overdosing. Naloxone simply saves lives,” said Brent Kelsey with the DSAMH.
The Naloxone rescue kits are easy-to-use and cost-effective, coming to approximately $15 a vial and $30 for a whole kit. The kits are injectable, featuring large needles designed to inject into a muscle, similar to a flu shot. Although kits on the market feature other methods of inoculation, such as intranasal, the injectable kits are much more cost effective.
Kit Locations & Contact
If you need a Naloxone rescue kit, please contact Utah Naloxone.
The Utah Opioid Task Force, co-chaired by Senator Mike Lee, DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser, and Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, had its quarterly meeting to discuss several topics for next steps following the Utah Solutions Summit, which focused on the opioid crisis in the state of Utah. Here’s a brief recap.
Opioid Summit Report: Attendance surpassed expectations. The goal was to reach 5,000 between the morning session geared toward students and the afternoon spent resourcing the community. In reality, over 9,000 students and community members showed up and participated in the event. The big takeaway from the Summit was the powerful impact it had on the students in attendance. Many students download both the SafeUT App and the FENDMovement App – each of which has proven effective in students with helpful resources.
Dr. Eric Garland from the University of Utah College of Social Work spoke on mindfulness-oriented recovery enhancement (MORE). The research and evidence on this are showing remarkable results. It shows one can reduce the physiological response to opioid addiction, which is a huge answer for those who are suffering.
Chief Tom Ross, of the Bountiful Police Department, spoke about what police deal with on the streets. A pilot program is being developed to create options for addicts to go to the intensive treatment programs in lieu of criminal charges. This is a course of action the AG’s office has been assisting with and promoting.
Following the meeting, Assistant AG Scott Reed, Coordinator of the Utah Opioid Task Force, took time to share with KSL-TV about the success of Solutions Summit. You can watch the interview below.
SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the co-chairs of the Utah Opioid Task Force hosted the 5th Annual Solutions Summit: Instead – Connecting for a Cure. Over 5,000 students, educators, healthcare officials, and community members were in attendance at the event presented by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, DEA 360 Program Director Brian Besser, and others.
The summit, which was held in two parts, focused on combatting the opioid epidemic in the state of Utah.
The morning session was created with the intent to educate high schoolers on the dangers of opioid use and give them real-time resources to stop addiction before it starts. Students enjoyed musical numbers, educational videos, and stories from families who had lost loved ones to the crisis.
The general session, which was held in the afternoon, focused on enabling communication and support across the various communities involved in combating the crisis.
While the co-chairs were pleased with the success of the summit, they stressed the importance of continuing this effort beyond today’s events. “The way we keep the momentum going is by connecting to the communities,” DEA District Agent in Charge for the State of Utah Brian Besser said. “We are wearing our tires out traveling around the state. We spend most of our time finding those who are hardest hit, listening, and learning how we can help.”