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Utah Women Introduce Resolution To Recognize Int’l Overdose Awareness Day

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Two Utah women are hoping to raise awareness for overdose and addiction in the state by recognizing August 31 as International Overdose Awareness Day.

With the backing of Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, they drafted and presented a resolution at the Utah Capitol Tuesday that would see Utah join eight other states in recognizing the day.

The women said research shows Utah is as high as fourth in the nation when it comes to overdoses. They believe raising awareness will ultimately help save lives.

Lisa Thompson lost her 28-year-old son to a drug overdose 3 1/2 years ago. “I can’t imagine another family going through what we’ve been through,” Thompson said.

Two back-to-back shoulder surgeries led to her son’s addiction. He left behind a wife and baby girl.

Thompson told KSL he struggled for a few years and was even admitted to long-term rehab before he relapsed during a business trip in 2017.

She had just talked to him the night before. But, when his coworker tried to wake him up the next morning, Landon had passed away. “His co-worker hollered at him. He didn’t respond,” Thompson said. “When he rolled him over, he had aspirated that night.”

Thompson said the next several months were a blur. But then she started to get clarity about a new fight that she was ready to spearhead.

“I knew I was going to do something wrapped around the world of substance abuse,” she said. “I didn’t know what that was going to look like.”

She got busy. She serves on several addiction and abuse boards. Then, she ran across a Facebook post last month.

The post showed other states that recognized overdoses with a day dedicated to lowering the flag to half-staff. She immediately called a friend in politics. He told her to reach out to Eliason. But, when she called his office, she reached his intern, Steffine Amodt — a woman in long-term recovery who had lived through generational addiction.

“I used a majority of my life,” Amodt told KSL.

It didn’t start with her. “One time I walked in on my mom, overdosed, with a needle in her arm,” Amodt said. “She was half dead. I didn’t know what I was walking into — my daughter was with me.”

Amodt decided then and there to turn her life around. She enrolled in college, majored in social work and ended up at Eliason’s office for the legislative session. “I survived it for a reason. I’ve lived it,” she said.

The two got to work. Eliason told them to draft the resolution. They found out Utah is as high as fourth in the country for overdose, and they believe raising awareness is the first step to stopping the stigma of addiction.

For Thompson, three years after her son’s death, she feels this is her calling. “It’s huge, huge healing process for me. It’s therapy because I know I’m paying it forward,” she said. “I know, and I always say, if I can save one life before I go, I’ve done my job.

Eight other states recognize International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 every year.

In the past, the group has held in-person rallies at the capitol. Due to COVID-19, they will hold a virtual rally at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The resolution moved forward Tuesday. If it gets through the House, it will head to the Senate before it would be signed by Gov Spencer Cox.

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