According to health.utah.gov, Utah has experienced a nearly 400 person increase in deaths from the misuse or abuse of prescription drugs. Utah saw significant decreases in prescription opioid deaths from 2007 to 2010, when the Utah Department of Health received state funding to address the issue. This funding resulted in a 28 percent decrease in the number of prescription opioid deaths in the state.
In the time since that funding expired, these deaths increased nearly 27 percent to a peak in 2014. This suggests that a sustainable, comprehensive public health approach will result in significant decreases in preventable drug overdose deaths and save at least 50 lives per year in Utah. A good place to start is with the youth in training them about the harmful effects of not only prescription drug abuse but also illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
In speaking with Iron County Today, LaMar C. Macklin, Iron County Prevention Coordinator / Cultural Competence Technical Specialist – Committee Chairperson with Southwest Behavioral Health Center said, “In general, but not specifically, drug or alcohol use by youth causes harm both physically and emotionally. In regard to long term drug use and problem drinking by youth tend to more often lead to abuse, addiction and developmental problems than in populations who waited until they were of legal age. The compulsive use of alcohol and drugs by teenagers is one of the most confounding and challenging problems we face. These issues are never easy and have a grave impact on society mostly to our young. They, our youth, never reach their full potential in their formation and as a result it effects not only their health but decision making and their future at large. Why is it that some youth can maneuver through adolescences with no problems with this and others cannot? “
Sadly, most parents, treatment providers, other professionals and researchers don’t know enough about youth use to 100 percent completely answer these questions, Macklin said.
“What we do know is that most youth agree a significant influence on their decision to use or not comes from their parent’s attitudes and influence,” he added.
He said Iron County has seen a rise in the use of both marijuana, and vaping (e-cigarette) use.
“We have met as a Prevention Team to address these issues and are currently working hard to address these specifically by proposing programs and intervention,” he said. We have met and collaborated with professional from a variety of fields, public health, mental health, substance abuse and prevention and are working together to bring about the best outcomes in this regard. We look forward to having community support of these ideals and the support of parents especially; discouraging their child from ever using drugs, alcohol or tobacco under age.”