The federal government is providing millions of dollars to help states fight abuse of opioids, and Utah will receive some of that money.
On International Overdose Awareness Day, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services announced awards for 53 million dollars in grants. States that receive money can use it for opioid abuse treatment and prevention efforts.
Utah will receive nearly 2 million dollars over five years to use toward prevention programs.
Craig Povey is a prevention program administrator with the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. He believes that when it comes to saving lives from opioid overdose, prevention is the best investment.
“Preventing these issues would save all of us hundreds of millions of dollars,” he says.
But, Povey says, with an epidemic the size of what Utah is facing, prevention is complicated.
“You’ve got to have collaboration with multiple partners including individual people, families, schools, law enforcement, hospitals, the physicians,” he says. “The problem that we had was that establishing that kind of infrastructure across the state, you know, it takes dollars to do that.”
The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health has established county-level coalitions aimed at raising awareness and preventing abuse. Povey says some of the new federal money will help expand and localize those programs, “to really figure out the specific needs of that local community and then address it with the programs that they need.”
In recent years, Utah has consistently seen some of the highest rates of drug poisoning deaths in the country. Povey hopes getting some extra financial help will help prevent Utahns from opioid addiction and overdose.