Utah Opioid Crisis Growing

Utah Opioid Crisis Growing

Steve is a hard-working husband and father, but it has been a long road to get where he is now.

“It was tons and tons of time away from my family, you know, years and years of not being present to actually have the memories I wish I had,” he said. “Couple of times I actually thought it was gonna cost me my life.”

Megan, a student getting married soon, also described her experience.

“It cost me a cousin, a boy I grew up with and played with every day,” she said.

It was just a few months ago that Collin Price died of an overdose. Although Steve and Megan have very different stories, there’s one common denominator — opioids.

“I was taking 30 OxyContin a day,” Steve said.

The very pills prescribed to kill the pain caused the worst pain of all.

“One day all of a sudden you’re like “Holy h—, what am I doing?” he said. “You see, I had already told myself that I’d be okay being a weekend dad, so I was choosing pills over my family.”

“The worst part was having to see (my cousin’s) mother watch his body be taken out in a body bag and placed in the back of a truck,” Megan said.

But it’s not just Utah battling this opioid crisis, President Trump has declared it a national emergency.

So what’s being done? Here in Utah, many are working to curb the problem. For example, in September the feds awarded Utah nearly $2 million to combat the crisis. Funds were distributed to 11 different health centers across the state, including one here in Provo – Mountainlands Community Healthcenter.

Of those millions of dollars, Provo is only receiving $155,000. Yet recipients said only half of that money will be used for direct patient care, leaving them with a mere $80,000.

Is that enough money? Todd Bailey, Executive Director of Mountainlands Community Healthcenter, said no.

“I don’t believe it’s adequate funding for the crisis that we see right now,” Bailey said. “I mean there’s so many patients, particularly in our community, people that you wouldn’t understand or believe may have an opioid issue.”

As the crisis grows, healthcare management feels these critical programs remain underfunded, and the lack of awareness and resources is worrisome to many people like Bailey.

“If you don’t know there’s an option, how’re you ever going to get out?” he said. “And if there is an option and they do offer programs, how’re you gonna pay for it if you’re not blessed like I was?”

Steve was one of the lucky ones, but for many, escaping addiction isn’t a reality.
For Steve it took almost $1 million, support from his parents and lots of courage.

But the reality is that there are six Utahns just like Collin that lose the fight each week to this harrowing addiction.

“God just didn’t want his son to suffer, so He brought him home,” Megan said.

Shannon Grondel

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