r Addiction to prescription pain medications, also known as opioids, is an epidemic in Utah and across the nation. For many, addiction began as a legal prescription. To educate the public about this health crisis, Intermountain Healthcare, MountainStar Healthcare, Wasatch Mental Health, Utah County Department of Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment and the state’s prevention campaign, Use Only as Directed, have joined forces to encourage Utah County residents to Speak Out, Opt Out and Throw Out their prescription opioids.
Leader from participating healthcare organizations joined with local prevention experts and Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee to unveil a widespread public awareness campaign in February. The gravity of the problem in Utah County, including the particularly hard-hit Payson community, is underscored by Utah Department of Health data that reports Utah County is one of the top five hotspots in the state for emergency department visits due to opioid misuse and overdose.
Large-scale messaging throughout the hospitals and clinics will educate patrons to the fact that 7,000 opioid prescriptions are issued each day in Utah, increasing the chance of misuse or abuse. It can take just seven days to develop a physical dependency on opioids.
Partners in the initiative are encouraging Utah County residents to Speak Out, by having a conversation with their doctor about the potential risks of opioids, Opt Out of prescription pain medications in favor of other CDC recommended, effective alternatives and Throw Out unused medications properly.