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Sean D. Reyes
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CDC Reports Drug Abuse Deaths DOWN in Utah; but Up in U.S.

SALT LAKE CITY – A report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released last month shows that Utah’s number of drug overdose deaths declined in the 12-month period ending in May 2020.  The report shows that the number of deaths nationally 81,230 increased during the same period, the greatest number ever reported.  

Utah is 1 of only 4 states to show a decrease.  While the U.S. is up 16.9%, Utah is down nearly 0.9%.   For perspective, Utah’s overdose death rate was fourth highest in the nation in 2014.

While overdose deaths were already increasing in the months preceding the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the latest numbers suggest an acceleration of overdose deaths during the pandemic.

Utah’s decline is encouraging, and more data will confirm whether this trend will be on-going.  However, the state has a team of partners who are all actively working to combat this growing problem.

“There has been a concerted effort to emphasize treatment as much as possible in this state,” said Dr. Jennifer Plumb, pediatrician, and cofounder of Utah Nalaxone.  “Our state also working hard on a campaign to educate people about and distribute the overdose treatment Naloxone. This has been crucial in saving lives.”

“There are dedicated, amazing and effective people focused on addiction to opioids and other deadly drugs,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes.  “We may never totally win this battle, but there are a lot of people who are definitely making a difference and I’m extremely pleased that it is reflected in the CDC data.”

Among the partners working with the Attorney General’s office: The Utah Health Department, Utah Naloxone and the law enforcement/EMS first responders, The University of Utah Bridge Program, Intermountain Healthcare, Mary Jo McMillan of USARA, and the members of the recovery community.

 There is more information and links in the CDC’s release.