MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 News) – All week, we’ve been highlighting efforts to end the opioid epidemic.
There is no magic pill, one therapy or one solution. Intermountain Healthcare recognizes this is a public health issue.
Intermountain Healthcare has a long-term goal in the next five years to reduce opioid-related deaths.
It takes education, awareness, partnerships and just about everyone to battle this complex and deadly problem. That message seems to be getting out there.
Hospitals are prescribing fewer pills. Intermountain Healthcare will come close to its goal of reducing prescribed opioids by 40 percent this year.
“We knew people had medication left over and we had a responsibility to change our prescribing so there would be less medication leftover that would be at risk for misuse,” said Mikelle Moore, Senior VP of Community Health, Intermountain Healthcare.
More patients are asking and more doctors are prescribing natural, safe alternatives for pain relief.
“It helps me manage the pain I might be feeling and keeps me away from meds,” said Jill Sieffert, getting a medical massage.
“It’s commonly used for pain problem,” said Zui Fang, acupuncturist.
“It’s a great compliment for stress reduction to manage pain,” said Liz Young, massage therapist.
Another large piece of that puzzle is for insurance companies to get on board.
“Patients need to know they can ask for that and insurance is warming up to that,” said Young.
Getting Nalxoneintoo the hands of more and more people is also part of the solution.
“Naloxone can be part of anyone’s first aid kit,” said Lisa Nichols, Intermountain Healthcare Community Health Executive Director.
For so many who are dependent or have loved ones affected by the opioid epidemic. They want you to shake the stigma. They are not just people who are living on the streets. They are people like Kelly Howard’s son.
“Know they are good, loving people who have gotten lost,” said Howard.
“We know currently, 80 percent of heroine addicts started with prescription pain medication,” said Dr. Jay Bishoff with Intermountain Medical Center’s Urological Institute
He says the impact on opioids in America is striking.
“The average life expectancy went down for the first time last year in large part because of the opioid deaths. It’s that significant,” said Bishoff.
Intermountain Healthcare has partnered with state and local partners in the ‘Use Only as Directed’ awareness campaign. It aims to empower Utahns to speak out, opt out, and throw out prescription medications safely.
The combined efforts seem to be working. For the first time in six years, Utah experienced a decrease in heroin-related overdose deaths. The number of prescription opioid overdose deaths declined for the third straight year. But many of us know there is much more work to be done.
“While it’s sad that we are talking about this issue because so many people have died, it’s really healthy to talk about what people are experiencing. The more awareness around the risk of taking opioids, having Naloxone on hand if you are taking opioids for a chronic pain, these types of things make a difference and saves lives,” said Mikelle Moore, Senior VP of Community Health.
- Stop The Opidemic campaign: https://www.opidemic.org/
- Use Only As Directed campaign: https://useonlyasdirected.org/resources/
- The Odyssey House: Addiction, mental health, and medical services in Utah: https://www.odysseyhouse.org/
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/prevention/index.html