CDC shows record increase in overdose deaths nationwide, but Utah is doing better – Cache Valley Daily

The Centers for Disease Control released a report this week, stating that for the first time, the number of overdose deaths in the United States exceeded 100,000 in a 12-month period. This is the first scan since the onset of COVID-19 and covers the period ending April 2021. The data marks a year since the country experienced a major disruption in services due to COVID-19 and s ‘add to the many challenges already encountered. by many.

Maren Wright Voss, assistant professor of health and wellness at Utah State University, said while the country has seen a 29% increase in overdose deaths, the figures for Utah n weren’t that dark.

“Fortunately, our state’s overdose rates have declined sharply since 2018, but Utah-specific CDC data shows a surge that began in March 2020 when COVID hit,” she said. “Utah overdose death rate now up 20%. The peak was over 750 deaths in 2016, but then we had dropped to 550 in 2020, so it’s heartbreaking to see it jump from 100 deaths so dramatically. ”

As many have worked to deal with the COVID-19 health crisis, this new pandemic of losses is adding to the burden. Prevention experts suggest the need to redouble your efforts and focus.

“We know, thanks to the science of prevention, that resilience is built when there is more connection and support in a community“said Voss.” We recognize that recovery communities can use more support. “

The White House overdose prevention strategy approved by the White House and announced last month puts more emphasis on the primary prevention of substance use disorders as an effective approach. upstream, which would help prevent the problem before it starts. It also includes increased support for downstream prevention, such as harm reduction, with “robust” support for access to overdose reversal medications like naloxone, access to drug therapy, and recovery supports. .

Mary Jo McMillen, executive director of Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness, said the organization recognizes that the drug and alcohol epidemic is already exacerbated by isolation.

COVID-19 pandemic further isolated people struggling with substance use, and now they are at a greater risk of dying from an opioid / drug overdose and alcoholism, ”she said. “We know that people are more likely to settle and recover from addiction when they connect with people and have access to mutual and local support within their community. “

USU’s Health Extension: Advocacy, Research, & Teaching (HEART) initiative has led prevention efforts locally since 2018. From support for Prescription Recovery Day to Recovery Day events and training on prescription recovery. harm reduction extension professors worked to share the message of opioid safety.

Dave Schramm, extended family life specialist, said, “Looking at the numbers nationwide and in Utah, I can’t help but think our multi-pronged prevention efforts are working! Our resources are better known and more readily available, which ultimately translates into fewer deaths and more people getting the help they need. ”

Upcoming prevention events in Utah include community opioid education dinners in Weber, Carbon and Emery counties in November 2021 and February 2022 and a first responder opioid resource summit in Tooele from 8 to December 9. More information is available at

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