USU Extension and USU Libraries launch digital library focused on opioid crisis

The Utah State University Extension Health Extension: Advocacy, Research, & Teaching (HEART) Team

LOGAN – The Utah State University Extension Health Extension: Advocacy, Research, & Teaching (HEART) Initiative, in partnership with USU Libraries, recently launched a digital library collection featuring stories from people affected by the opioid crisis.

“Informing the National Narrative: Stories of Utah’s Opioid Crisis Digital Collection” is now available online for anyone to access.

The collection is made up of 32 interviews (both audio and transcripts) featuring individuals from nine Utah counties who have a personal connection to the opioid epidemic, including people in recovery, family members, treatment providers and others. The collection is focused on persevering the stories of the opioid crisis in Utah in order to bring hope and healing to those affected by this epidemic.

From 2013 through 2015, Utah’s opioid overdoses outpaced deaths from firearms, falls and motor vehicle accidents. During the last several years, health agencies and local coalitions have worked to combat this epidemic through addressing opioid prescribing habits, educating the public about their addictive properties and improving access to services to those who have a substance use disorder. However, more work needs to be done to address the negative stigma surrounding substance use disorders, according to Kandice Atismé, USU Extension health and wellness assistant professor.

“There is a stigma surrounding substance misuse, perpetuating the idea that substance misuse is the result of a moral failing and only experienced by ‘bad’ or ‘weak’ people,” Atismé said. “This collection aims to combat that belief. We are excited to have the digital collection live and to share these amazing narratives with our communities.”

The HEART Initiative is a new pilot initiative through USU Extension. This cutting edge, 4-year pilot program brings unique academic resources into the community, partnering locally and nationally to address the opioid epidemic and other pressing public health issues.

To access the digital collection, visit For more health and community resources, visit

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1 Comment

  • C Christiansen February 29, 2020 at 2:23 pm Reply

    Recovered addict here, 4 years clean thank God. I loved the diolage on stigmatism of addicts, are addicts turned into criminals by the very Justice system meant to deter them? Yes because… The drug trade ignores suply and demand. People pay for drugs with this lives, their families and they’re teeth. Making it very profitable to sell because of the unlimited demand under any circumstances.

    Because we make it illegal we create criminals. If you ever go to prison, you’ll find yourself in a rasist group or a gang real fast. Or you’ll get beat up constantly. You may Starve to death. Addicts are sick not criminal. But if you put ANYONE in prison or even jail long enough and you’ll make them a criminal. The problem is most people are never branded major criminals so they never see just how hard it is to stick to personal principals in the hardcore places they don’t send minor offenders to.

    Prisons have a place in our society, we don’t want murders and pedophiles running amuck. Prisons kind of need to be terrible, or our society hasn’t yet determined how to create a Justice system that doesn’t create more criminals. Think about being locked in a giant cage with insane murderers, sex criminals, and gangsters. That’s who’s in there other than addicts and how on Earth would you prevent them from doing exactly what they’re going to do? One guard to 60 prisons on average last time I checked.

    At the same time, should herion be legal as to stop the perpetual cycle of creating criminals from non violent offenders with drug violations? Who knows. It worked well in a few countries, but non of them shared a boarder with Mexico. Our situation here is unique because of that, we can’t look at what other countries have done. It’s apples and oranges. Hypothetically, if we decriminalized every street drug, we WOULD defeat the cartel by taking away they’re recorces and market. But then meth and heroin would be legal. That’s bad right?

    Well if it’s coming from the cartel yes. It’ll be the opposite of pharmacy pure grade safe to use drugs. It will be dirty, cut with God knows what, and inconsistent in strength. But the truth is our society DOESN’T care about addiction, we don’t think addiction is immoral, we don’t care if people get hooked on amphetamines or opiates AT ALL. Opiate pills are easily obtained through a doctor and pharmacy. Without having multiple doctors it’s easy to get enough pills to stay high on whatever you like. America and our society has no problem with heroin addiction as long as your heroin is the name of an opiate medication from a pharmacy. Pills cause more amputations from IV use than EVERY STREET DRUG COMBINED! Our society doesn’t care if you’re a meth addict, so long as your doctor had diagnosed you with ADHD.

    Speaking from personal experience, I have ADHD severely. Time moves painfully slow when I’m not medicated, I’m to talkative, I say inappropriate things without control, and I never sleep. I also have another condition that causes severe pain and I took opiates to quell that pain. Every addict is self medicating. Some of them find more success in medicating themselves for their ADHD with meth than the doctor’s could ever provide for reasons like they can use it whenever, there’s no regulated does so they can use less or more as needed, and it’s somehow cheaper, (seriously if you include insurance and doctors bills, and you’re only in need of ADHD medication, if meth works it’s cheaper so people use it. Those with ADHD typically don’t get euphoria from it or w stimulating effect at all. It just makes then normal like Adderall would.)

    Decriminalized drugs already exsist in high quantity. Both Smith’s here probably have more amphetamines than the local cartel members. (I can’t prove that but it’s pretty likey.) You may kill yourself accidentally by getting too high on opiates legally and in a socially acceptable way through a doctor and pharmacy. It would be fantastic to stop creating violent criminals out of addicts, it would be excellent to stop the flow of money to criminals selling drugs, and it would be nice to be more progressive and accepting in our society, but at present we don’t have a good enough answer. We have decriminalized drugs. We have fought a literal ground war against drugs. We have filled our prisons to the brim with non violent drug offenders with no other history of crime, and forced then to become gang members. Prison isn’t what TV says it is. Every seen the Shawshank Redemption? It’s much worse than that everywhere now. We have increased treatment but very few treatments are actually effective.

    Most treatments claim to have substantially higher success rates than in reality. I have actually been to 5 treatment centers, all of them claimed to have an insane success rate, I’d guess 95% of everyone I was in treatment with is off the grid and probably high, dead from drugs, or in jail or prison. Furthermore no one has EVER called me to see if I was still clean to add my data to their statistics on success. So they’re all lying about a 50% success rate.

    The unfortunate truth is treatment centers get thousands from you and your insurance every time you go back. It’s a business set up with good intentions, but with the unfortunate side effect of profiting off repeat customers. Every relapse a patient has is another large payday for the person in charge of getting people to come to treatment in a “salesman” like way. I don’t think this was set up by evil people who want to profit off suffering but the structure of that buissness makes it hard to avoid an accidental tenancy to really follow up and help people stay and not just get clean.

    In summary, addiction is a horrifically misunderstood problem on a personal level, (which I didn’t even touch,) and on a societal level it’s so complex not even or most ingenious social scientists have a good solution. Decriminalize and shift the problem to some much less ugly but still as deadly and potentially worse, criminalize and create violent criminals faster than we can lock them away, treatments seen to just take money from the families of addicts and their insurance without providing much lasting benefit, and fighting a war on drugs (literally,) seems to fuel the cartels and major criminals. Decriminalized seemed to work in more socialist countries who are known to fudge numbers so their claims can’t be taken seriously, and even if we could take their claims seriously; they don’t have the same geographic problems as we do. Treatment seems to work so they can make sales, it’s not evil it’s buissness. We don’t have a good solution and we don’t understand the problem. We need more data before we do ANYTHING, we could decriminalize drugs and de-stigmatize addicts (which sounds lovely) but we have no idea what the long term consequences could be. It could leave us worse off. It’s time instead to spread more education and the various facets and perspectives on the problem with the hopes of encouraging someone smarter than me to create a better solution that will work for Americans.

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