Opioid Overdose Death High Among Occupations Involving Physical Activity

Feb 14, 2019, 10:15 AM | Updated: 12:32 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – First-of-its-kind research from the Utah Department of Health has shown which occupations are most vulnerable for opioid overdose deaths.

The report shows that occupations involving physical activity are at the top of the list.

“This opioid epidemic affects all walks of life,” said Angela Ito, the UDOH opioid prevention coordinator.

However, some workers are more vulnerable to opioid addiction and death than others. Ito said the state wants to make sure those workers have access to resources for recovery.

“(What) we wanted to understand is, who’s more vulnerable to this?” she said. “We found that there’s certain occupations that are more vulnerable.”

Among men, 229 construction workers died from an opioid overdose in Utah between 2012 and 2017. One-hundred-30 construction workers died from a heroin overdose.

“We think people needed to get back to work quicker,” Ito said about why opioid addiction was higher among construction workers. “A lot of times they went to physicians after their injury and probably had a quicker goal of treating this pain quickly so they could get back to work.”

Construction workers and other physical laborers, who do maintenance, repair and moving, also run a higher risk of physical injury.

“We see they’re more vulnerable to injury, therefore more vulnerable to being prescribed an opioid medication,” Ito said. “A lot of times they have less access to things such as opioid treatment when they do become addicted.”

As for women, there were more than 100 opioid deaths in Utah among health care professionals during the five-year period.

“I knew it was pretty prominent in that profession,” said Nadena Gibson.

She didn’t take her first opioid because of an injury. She took it because of availability while she was a nurse.

“I’d been working as a nurse about a year,” she said. “I had some leftover morphine from a patient when I got home one day.”

She knows now that she was hooked after taking that first pill.

“I started looking forward to getting home from work to be able to use, basically,” Gibson said. “It was pretty quick.”

She took her last opioid more than a decade ago, and has been completely sober for six years.

“I’ve learned how to work through the issues, cope through them” without resorting to opioids or alcohol, she said. “If you just start to recognize your pattern and know that you can’t go there, and stick with it, life gets amazingly better.”

The new research shows opioid overdose deaths were higher in Utah than for the rest of the nation in 2016. However, Utah has also seen a decrease in opioid overdose deaths in recent years.


KSL 5 TV Live

Healthy Mind Matters

Dexton Obray was only 14 years old when he took his life in Monroe, Utah in October 2022. Since his...

Aley Davis

7th grade football player spreads mental health awareness after losing teammate to suicide

A 12-year-old boy is working to raise awareness after his football teammate died by suicide in October 2022.

21 days ago

Aron and Joe Tuia'ana (KSL TV)...

Peter Rosen

Utah man’s mission began on an overpass

Men are four times more likely than women to die by suicide. For Joe Tuia'ana that’s more than a statistic.

23 days ago

Branson Callor...

Candice Madsen

Huntsman Mental Health Institute leads world’s largest genetic study of suicide

Researchers at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute are leading the largest genetic study of suicide in the world. Twenty-two countries are participating in the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC).

28 days ago

Studio owner Sterling Brown has created a safe and creative space for artists...

Brittany Tait

How a Cache Valley art studio is using clay to heal

A new art studio in Cache Valley promotes inclusivity, safe spaces, creative learning and it's using clay to heal.

1 month ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Tamara Vaifanua

How to help kids cope with anxiety

The start of a school year can be an exciting time for kids, but some may feel a little anxious about it. Here's how to help.

2 months ago

Dawn Wilson and Lynze Preeze...

Mike Anderson

Family pushes for suicide prevention in face of difficult tragedy

A Cache Valley family is trying to spread the word about help for suicide prevention and bring some positive change from their own horrible tragedy.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

rodeo contestant on a saddle bronc...


Get Ready for the Days of ‘47 Rodeo!

The Days of '47 Rodeo is a series of events everyone in the family can enjoy, with world-class rodeo contestants vying for the gold medal.

Electric LED Lightbulb Change In Light At Home...

Lighting Design

How to Know When to Upgrade Your Lighting

This guide explores indicators that suggest it’s time for a lighting upgrade with tips to make an informed decision when you’re ready to buy. 

Opioid Overdose Death High Among Occupations Involving Physical Activity