“Nearly one person dies in Utah every day of the year due to prescription drug overdose.” When it comes to drug abuse in Utah, officials are hoping policymakers and residents agree to the old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Utah was awarded a nearly $2 million grant to help fund drug abuse prevention efforts throughout the state. Craig PoVey, a prevention administrator at the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health said “ just putting out tv commercials hoping to educate everyone and get parents on board just won’t do, we need to drill down to target specific messages in each area.” “The numbers (of drug users) in Utah are growing at an alarming rate, so much is at stake here, including lives and finances,” he explains.
The money coming in will be $375,000 a year from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They intend to use the money in Utah to strengthen drug misuse prevention efforts, and to raise awareness about the growing prescription drug overdose death toll. Currently partnerships between community coalition, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies are working together to help inform youths about the consequences and potential risks of illicit drug use. But we need more of a commitment in this area, which Utah is hoping this money will help them secure better. "Parents are a very strong influence on youth decisions, although with this epidemic, you've got a lot of people that are getting addicted to prescription drugs and using heroin that are older than teens," PoVey said. Efforts he directs will be focused on problems facing specific communities, as well as working with policymakers and law enforcement to enact and enforce laws and public policies. "The best prevention includes working with the individual, working with the families and communities, working with the schools, working with law enforcement, religious entities, as well as the policymakers to make sure we have the right laws in place," PoVey said, adding that the methodical, data-backed, science-based strategies on drug abuse prevention he's hoping to implement are proved to work. And what works in one community doesn't always work in another, so the department is hoping to customize prevention efforts throughout Utah.