ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – Addiction recovery centers are struggling to keep up with the demand as law enforcement officials in Southern Utah continue efforts to halt the war on drugs. The number one issue, experts say, is fentanyl.
Scott Mayfield is a retired law enforcement official and his wife Lori is a medical professional. Now, they run Hope Rising Detox and Rehabilitation in Washington County.
“We’ve seen an exponential growth as far as clients coming to us seeking treatment, we’re seeing a lot more fentanyl now than we have in the past and so that’s becoming our biggest challenge,” says Mayfield.
Leaders at Lions Gate Recovery agree. They say they averaged 250 new phone calls a month for 2020-2021. Now they are getting about 500 calls per month.
Information from the health department states:
“Drug poisoning deaths are a preventable public health problem; they are the leading cause of injury death in Utah, outpacing deaths due to firearms, falls, and motor vehicle crashes. Ten Utah adults die each week from drug overdose; eight of which are a result of opioids; and four due to prescription opioids, specifically. Utah is particularly affected by prescription opioids, which are responsible for 41% of the unintentional and undetermined drug poisoning deaths in the state.”
“Not just drugs in Utah, but drug overdose deaths particularly related to fentanyl,” says Josh Campbell, the operations director for Lions Gate Recovery.
They say once people are arrested after being caught with drugs, many of them come to their centers seeking help, and the facilities are struggling to keep up with the demand.
“On the staffing side, for sure we’re having a challenge that way too, because with that growth in the state of Utah and the challenge of the pandemic, finding staff to work with clients who come in has been a real challenge for us,” says Mayfield.
“We don’t have enough therapists and doctors to keep up with the exponential growth of drug problems,” says Campbell.
Campbell says fentanyl is potent and just the amount of Abraham Lincoln’s head on a penny, is enough to kill someone.
“Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin, where it gets dangerous is they’re pressing them into pills or another substance, it increases the effectiveness of it but it increases the overdose chances,” he says.
Mayfield says mental health resources is also a growing challenge. He and Campbell say the community is in dire need of more professionals to help during this unprecedented demand.