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Utah Resources for Mental Health and Substance Abuse During COVID-19

April 15, 2020

We recognize that during the COVID-19 pandemic these are difficult times for many people, especially those struggling with substance abuse or mental health. Below are some resources available for individuals, providers, and communities.

Look After Your Mental Health

The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health provided some helpful tips on ways that you can look after you and your mental health:

  1.   Seek information from legitimate sources and set limits around media exposure
  2.   Take care of yourself (Airplane Rules: Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others)
  3.   Safely reach out to others and support people around you
  4.   Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking; read something good and uplifting
  5.   Acknowledge your feelings, bounce them off a friend or loved one
  6.   Take time to talk to children about COVID-19
  7.   Ask for support, including professional support if needed. Asking for help is a sign of strength; none of us can do this alone.

Read more tips from them on how to manage stress here.

Guidance for Prescribers About Providing Telemedicine

SAMHSA and DEA released updated guidance for prescribers about providing telemedicine to new patients for buprenorphine. Click Buprenophone-Telemedicine for more information. If you would like to know overall information on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s guidelines, please click on Use of Telemedicine While Providing Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) here at MAT Guidelines.

SAMHSA Updates and Resources for Opioid Treatment Programs

The COVID-19 guidance includes approaches for providing pharmacotherapy for opioids use disorder patients exposed to infections and COVID-19, disaster planning, potential flexibility for take-home medication, OTP guidance for patients quarantined at home with the coronavirus, and Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ for OTP Guidance during Quarantine.

Learn more about the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) COVID-19 Guidance for Opioid Treatment Programs here and for overall information about Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health, please visit: SAMHSA Home Page.

Safely Dispose of Your Unwanted Medications

The National Take-Back Initiative where you can safely dispose of your unwanted, unused medications was planned for April 25, 2020, but has been postponed until further notice. If you are in need of disposing of unused, unwanted or expired medication, the Utah Opioid Task Force has free Dispose RX packets they can send to you.

Community Resources

Please check in on your loved ones and be aware of signs of poor mental health and emotional well-being. It’s important we have these types of resources readily available during these times. If a loved one needs substance use treatment, please access: https://findtreatment.gov/

Here are some other important phone numbers to have and share with your friends, family, and community: 

  • COVID-19 Hotline 1-800-456-7707
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • UNI WarmLine: 801-587-1055
  • Domestic Abuse Hotline:  1-800-799-7233
  • Utah Naloxone 385- 495-9050

If you need Peer Recovery Support and Family Support, USARA is functioning with an online presence at www.myusara.com.

SafeUT Remains Active for Students

The mental well-being of our youth is critical during these times. The SafeUT app is a real-time crisis intervention tool and tip line for students. This resource is fully functioning during current circumstances and can be downloaded here: https://healthcare.utah.edu/uni/safe-ut.

You are not alone during these trying times. We are in this together.

NarcX Proposed Statewide Initiative

October 16, 2019

The Utah Attorney General’s Office, Senator Dan Thatcher, Representative Eric Hutchings, and Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs discussed ways state and local governments can partner to combat the opioid crisis during a press conference this morning. Additionally, they discussed implementing a statewide initiative using NarcX, an on-site disposal system for opioids.

In September, Riverton City joined with Utah Attorney General Reyes, the Opioid Task Force, and Intermountain Riverton Hospital to launch the use of NarcX in Riverton. A safe, easy-to-use liquid solution dissolves pills, tablets, capsules, liquids, and patches immediately on contact, making them non-retrievable. Riverton now houses multiple boxes of NarcX at disposal sites that are capable of safely destroying up to 5,000 unused, unwanted opioids.

Additionally, NarcX helps prohibit people from flushing opioids down the toilet, which can have harmful consequences on the environment.

Listen to the press conference below:

Read more about NarcX and the launch of the Riverton City initiative here.

Purdue Pharma Files For Bankruptcy, Consistent with Settlement Framework

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2019

Purdue Pharma Files For Bankruptcy, Consistent with Settlement Framework

SALT LAKE CITY — Purdue Pharma announced today it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of itself and its affiliated U.S. companies.

This bankruptcy has been anticipated for some time. This bankruptcy filing is consistent with the settlement framework agreed upon by a bipartisan group of 29 attorneys general, including Sean D. Reyes, over 2,000 cities and counties, Purdue Pharma, and Purdue’s owners.

Pursuant to that framework, and with the approval of the bankruptcy court, this bankruptcy means Purdue will no longer exist. It will never again make, sell, or market another opioid product in the United States or anywhere in the world.

In accord with the framework:

  • The Sackler family will give up not only Purdue but also all the family’s international pharmaceutical holdings.
  • The proceeds of those sales are guaranteed to provide billions of dollars to the States and other plaintiffs to help address the devastation of the opioid epidemic.
  •  By the terms of the framework, the Sacklers will be out of the pharmaceutical industry forever.

No other plan on the table has any assurance of accomplishing these things.

These pharmaceutical companies have been the foundation of the Sackler family fortune. The liquidation of these assets will convert a huge portion of the Sacklers’ wealth into resources for our communities.

While the end of Purdue marks an important moment in the struggle against the opioid epidemic, there is much work yet to be done. Our office, along with all the states and subdivisions supporting this settlement, will continue our investigation and litigation against all other parties responsible for this epidemic.

“Purdue was morally bankrupt and now it is legally so,” said Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “Although there is no dollar amount that will undo the pain and suffering so many families have endured, I’m focused on getting resources to Utahns as quickly as possible.

“We’ve known for some time that bankruptcy was a likely outcome in this case. That is why we have worked so urgently as attorneys general to negotiate a proposed plan that would bring immediate relief and long-term resources to local communities across our states to prevent further devastation from this opioid threat. 

“Our plan also assures the Sacklers are out of pharmaceuticals and Purdue is out of business. Additionally, any assets that can be sold will yield potentially lifesaving treatment, recovery, prevention and education dollars to Utah and its counties and cities. 

I’m pleased to serve as one of nine attorneys general on the ad hoc committee to represent the interests of the states in this proceeding.”

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AG Reyes Joins 39 State Coalition Letter Urging Congress to Remove Federal Barriers to Treat Opioid Use Disorder

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2019

AG Reyes Joins 39 State Coalition Letter to Congressional Leadership Urging Congress to Remove Federal Barriers to Treat Opioid Use Disorder

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes sent a letter to Congressional leadership in both the House and Senate, asking for the removal of federal barriers that are currently preventing health care providers from offering treatment for opioid use disorder. 

Opioid use disorder is the physical and psychological reliance on opioids. Symptoms of opioid addiction include uncontrollable cravings for the drugs and the inability to control opioid use despite its negative impacts.

Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said it’s estimated that 2 million Americans struggle with opioid use disorder.

“States are on the front lines and are combining all of the resources at our disposal to stop the current crisis,” Attorney General Reyes said. “Although we have been successful in many ways, there is more that can be done by the federal government. By eliminating the barriers outlined in our letter, Congress can take meaningful, productive steps that will benefit those currently struggling with addiction before it’s too late.

“I appreciate my attorneys general colleagues who acknowledge that addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing, and the more help we can provide for those struggling the better,” Attorney General Reyes added.

The letter outlines three areas that need to be addressed:

  • Replace the cumbersome, out-of-date, privacy rules contained in 42 CFR Part 2 with the effective and more familiar privacy rules contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA);
  • Pass HR 2482, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which would eliminate unnecessary burdens on buprenorphine prescribing imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. Buprenorphine is one of three drugs used as part of Medication Assisted Treatment, the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Outdated and unnecessary federal requirements are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it; and 
  • Fully repeal the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. The IMD exclusion generally prohibits state Medicaid programs from receiving federal reimbursement for adults between 21 and 65 receiving mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds.

“The opioid epidemic is tearing families apart all over our state and nation,” Attorney General Reyes said. “Opioid addiction, like all chronic illnesses, requires treatment for people to get healthy. We must remove all unnecessary barriers between people with opioid use disorder and the treatment they need. I urge Congress to take these needed steps.”

Utah is joined on the letter by attorneys general from Oklahoma, North Carolina, (the leaders of the letter); California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakoda, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Read the letter here.

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Utah Opioid Litigation: RFP Findings and Contract

January 11, 2019

The Utah Attorney General’s Office has issued its Opioid RFP Procurement Findings as well as its Opioid RFP Contract with Motley Rice, LLC; Fears Nachawati; Ferrer, Poirot & Wansbrough; and Prince, Yeats & Geldzahler.

Both can be viewed here:

The State of Utah filed a lawsuit last May against Purdue Pharma in Carbon County, one of the counties hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.  For a quick overview of this office’s work to combat the opioid crisis (as of March 2018), click here

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