Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

USDA Talks Opioids, Resources And Social Stigma In Rural Utah

Erik Neumann / KUER
Jim Carroll, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy spoke with USDA's Anne Hazlett at the Utah capitol on Wednesday.

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.

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.