LOGAN — More than one-hundred people took part in a conference at Mt. Logan Middle School last Thursday, discussing the opioid drug epidemic in Cache Valley.
The event was organized by the Cache County Sheriff’s Office and featured speakers from the Cache Rich Drug Task Force and University of Utah College of Pharmacy.
Afterwards, Sheriff Chad Jensen said drug abuse effects almost everyone either personally, or through friends and family. He and his deputies put on the conference in hopes of clearing up some of the misunderstandings about prescription and illegal drug abuse.
“Often times I think there might be a misconception that if it is prescribed by a doctor it is safe and okay,” said Jensen. “Well heroin is not prescribed by a doctor and it’s basically the same narcotic. Prescriptions have their place in the world and they should be used if somebody needs that, but they can also be addictive and abusive as well.”
William Pace, pharmacy student at the U of U, discussed statics of how Utah ranked 7th in the country for drug overdose deaths between 2013-2015. He also highlighted how more people die from prescription drug overdoses than heroin and cocaine.
Jensen said on average, deputies are called to between 18-24 drug overdose incidents a year in the county.
“The statistics and the tracking of this is newer too, because of its prevalence. “So, I don’t know if we have tracked it far enough to say it was this substance, this substance or this substance. We only know it was a drug overdose.”
During the presentation, Pace explained some of the warning signs of opioid overdose, such as pinpoint pupils, respiratory depression and unconsciousness. He also demonstrated how family and friends can use the drug Naloxone, to reverse the effects of opioids in an emergency.
Jensen said if someone suspects their friend or family member might be abusing drugs, especially prescription drugs, they should seek help.
“There’s hot-lines you can call to get advice. Call the physicians. Call the police and let us know and let us help you. We will have the information to get you in touch with the right people, but don’t be afraid to search and ask for help, regardless of where it comes from.
“And then just be cautious in what you leave in your home and what you don’t have in your home. Medications are good things and are there for a reason, but when you don’t need them anymore, dispose of those things so that they don’t become such a problem.”
Price said there is more information on how to help someone struggling with an opioid drug addiction at utahnaloxone.org. The website was started by the family of someone who lost their life to an opioid overdose.
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