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Committee Passes 5 Bills to Prevent Drug Overdoses

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A legislative committee passed several bills dealing with Utah’s growing problem of drug overdose deaths on Thursday.

The House Health and Human Services Committee began by passing a resolution declaring a public health emergency due to deaths from drug overdoses. Democratic Representative Carol Spackman Moss pointed out that Utah is ranked fourth in the nation for drug overdose deaths and first in the nation for overdose deaths by military veterans.

“Over 400 people are dying right here in Utah every year,” she told the committee. “More than traffic fatalities, more than gun-related accidents.”

Moss and two republican representatives then presented three bills that they say would help reduce those deaths. One bill would create pilot programs to reach and educate people at risk for an opioid addiction. Two other bills would increase access to naloxone, which is used as an antidote for drug overdoses.

Dennis Cecchini told members of the committee he was helpless last year as he watched his son die of an overdose.

“My wife and I found him in enough time, we think, to have saved his life but we had no idea how to,” he said. “My wife is a trained EMT and she didn’t even know about naloxone.”

Five bills dealing with opioid addiction and overdoses passed unanimously out of committee. They will now move to the full House for consideration.

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