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Opioid Summit Kicks Off In Salt Lake City

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Local health care and law enforcement leaders are among those meeting this week to discuss Utah’s opioid addiction crisis. It’s part of a summit to talk about obstacles and forge collaborative solutions.

The summit kicked off on Wednesday. It includes two days of panel discussions and breakout sessions, as well as presentations about how other cities are tackling drug issues. 

Following a panel discussion with law enforcement representatives Wednesday morning, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said one of the biggest challenges police officers face is the sheer volume of drugs on the streets.

“Heroin today is as cheap as beer,” Winder says. “That’s just unbelievable to believe. But we’ve got to deal with better controls to try and intercede with some of the volume coming in. Also we have to break up some of the large pools of dealing, specifically the downtown area.”

Winder says he hopes some collaborative solutions come out of the summit. He says if groups like law enforcement, treatment providers, and state lawmakers don’t come together to find answers, Utahns will continue to lose their lives to opioid addiction. 

“We’ll just be in deep trouble,” Sheriff Winder says. “We’ve got to start learning that we have to come together where we overlap and there’s much overlap. And this is one of those opportunities to do that.”

Wednesday morning’s law enforcement panel heard questions from a wide variety of people including a family physician, a school district representative and a family member of someone who overdosed. The summit continues on Thursday and is open to the public.

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