Utah County launches effort to raise awareness of prescription opioid addiction

Feb 15, 2018, 9:20 PM | Updated: Feb 16, 2018, 12:40 am

PAYSON— As people are given a prescription for a painkiller following an injury, few patients may realize the relief the opioid provides also increases the risk of addiction when those drugs are misused.

Utah County government leaders, health providers and law enforcement announced Thursday an effort to reduce opioid abuse and addiction, as mothers shared equally heartbreaking stories about losing their children.

“He was in a motorcycle accident and had broke his collarbone and that is how it all started,” said Becky Hilliker, who lost her 29-year-old son Derek last year, following years of struggle with addiction.

Others shared similar tragedies.

“The day after Christmas, I woke up and found her on the floor with a needle in her arm and she was gone,” said Amber Baum of American Fork, who lost her daughter McKenzie, four years ago.

Terry Ann Olsen of Cedar Hills, said her son Dane’s ATV injury was so severe as a teenager that he needed painkillers. However, it ultimately led to a heroin addiction and took his life at age 25.

“The prescription meds are expensive to buy off the street and someone told him about heroin,” she said.

There is a new community effort to make sure patients know about the risks. “Speak Out”, “Opt Out” and “Throw Out” is the new message.

First, ask your doctor if pain medication is really needed. “Opt out” by using ibuprofen instead of a painkiller and then “throw out” and properly dispose of unused medications as soon as you no longer need them.

With 7,000 opioid prescriptions filled each day in Utah, the goal is for this messaging in hospitals to raise more awareness. The messages are also found in pharmacies and mental health clinics.

“People are dying every day,” said Heather Lewis, the prevention program manager, in Utah County. “Utah is seventh in the nation for overdose death and addiction, it mostly starts with prescription pain medication.”

RELATED LINK: UseOnlyAsDirected.org





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Utah County launches effort to raise awareness of prescription opioid addiction