Utah, more than other area of the nation, is suffering from a silent epidemic. From 2000 to 2014, Utah has experienced a nearly 400% increase in deaths from the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. Each month there are 24 individuals who die from prescription drug overdoses.
What can we do to help alleviate this growing epidemic? Constant education of the public is essential to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. There is great danger in legal prescription medications and illicit drugs.
What is addiction? As defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine: “Addiction is a biological, psychological, social and spiritual illness.”
We are learning more and more that opioids now kill more young adults than alcohol. Yet, these deaths are preventable. Addictionologist, Dr. Sean A. Ponce, M.D., at Salt Lake Behavioral Health Hospital is an advocate of prevention and clinical expert in the treatment of addiction.
Dr. Ponce relates having cancer to that of drug or alcohol addiction. “For cancer, we want to know the prognosis, how far it’s spread… we want to hear the word remission. Do we talk about that with addiction?”
He goes onto say, “Addiction is a disease that can also spread. It is a disease that can be mild, moderate or severe. We want to put it into remission. When cancer reoccurs everyone rallies around that patient to help. When addiction reoccurs what happens? We send a mixed message. It is also a disease and we need to be able to help.”
Dr. Ponce also tells us that, “Surviving isn’t really a way to live. Thriving is.”
Intermountain Health Care recently kicked off a prescription opioid misuse awareness campaign with new artwork in the main lobby of McKay-Dee Hospital including a chandelier built entirely of pill bottles.
This artwork highlights the hospital’s efforts to raise awareness about prescription opioid misuse and represents the 7,000 opioid prescriptions filled each day in Utah. It’s aim: to inform visitors that the risk of opioid addiction “hangs over everyone.”
The campaign’s partners include: Bonneville Communities That Care, Weber Human Services, Use Only as Directed, and Intermountain’s Community Benefit team.
There are also several elevator doors, in McKay Dee Hospital, covered with warnings against opioid use. It definitely sends a strong message to stop and think about the dangers involved.
As previously mentioned, Salt Lake Behavioral Health is a private, freestanding psychiatric hospital specializing in mental health and substance abuse treatment.
You may use this link to learn more about how to help prevent the spread of this deadly epidemic.