Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture met with a dozen groups affected by the state’s opioid epidemic on Wednesday. They were looking for solutions to the drug problem in rural Utah.
The panelists included Attorney General Sean Reyes, DEA officials, health workers from Carbon County and officials from LDS Family Services.
Richard and Annette Dyreng were also there. They have a farm in Gunnison, in Sanpete County. Exactly three months ago the Dyrengs lost their daughter, Cami, to a heroin overdose.
"There’s less resources down there. There’s more judgment, because everybody knows everybody better," Richard Dyreng said.
His wife, Annette Dyreng, agreed.
"I think there’s too much of the blaming and not near enough of the treating. The treating the drugs without treating the reasons, the whys," she said.
This shame that’s wrapped up in addiction came up a lot during the event. But panelists also offered USDA officials some solutions. Things like successful jail detox programs, expanded LDS faith-based services and peer support, where active drug users can talk to people who are in recovery.
Jim Carroll is the acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He visited from Washington D.C. to learn about Utah’s specific needs.
"You’ve visited one community that is impacted and you have visited one community that is impacted. Every community is different, whether it’s an urban setting, suburban setting or rural setting," Carroll said.
Over the next seven weeks USDA is accepting proposals from rural communities to get funding for new treatment and recovery services and online telehealth programs.