drug abuse

NPR

The Wyoming Department of Health will be using a national advertising campaign to assist with state efforts to combat opioid abuse. State Epidemiologist Alexia Harrist said the campaign from the Centers for Disease Control tells stories of abuse and addiction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported record drug overdose numbers in 2017, but a handful of states saw a decrease last year including here in the Mountain West.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting a record 72,000 people died from opioid overdoses last year. Meanwhile, a newly published study from the University of Colorado shows pet owners may be intentionally hurting their animals to get the drug for themselves.   

A state-by-state analysis of opioid prescriptions for people who visited emergency rooms with a sprained ankle show one in four patients were given opioids for pain.

The study looked at insurance claims for ER visits between 2011 and 2015.

At the low end, prescribing rates were around three percent and at the high end 40. The overall average was 25 percent.


On a recent Tuesday morning at the West Jordan library outside Salt Lake City, Peter Sadler was carefully stabbing an orange with a syringe.

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Teton County Commissioners recently voted not to file a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

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The U.S. House of Representatives has been voting on a slew of opioid-related bills–and they’re not done. The plan is to take up more than 30. Some deal with ensuring old pills are easily and safely disposed of, while others try to ensure the government has the best data on the crisis. Still, others seek to prevent drugs from flowing in through the nation’s many points of entry–whether the southern or northern borders or via a plane or ships.

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Carbon County recently filed suit against opioid manufacturers and distributors, and Teton County is considering the idea too. But Wyoming’s attorney general would rather the state take the lead on an opioid lawsuit.

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Five agencies around Wyoming will split a $2-million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal organization, to help combat opioid abuse in the state. It’s a national five-year grant program and this is the second year Wyoming has received it. 

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The opioid crisis has hit Native American communities harder than any other racial group in the country. Overdose deaths in Indian Country are 519 percent of the national average.

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A new report by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center shows that opioid abuse in the state is following the same rising trends as the rest of the nation, but isn’t seeing the skyrocketing rates of Appalachia and New England.

Governor Matt Mead
Bob Beck

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead was in Washington for the National Governors Association Meeting and the nations opioid crisis was a central focus.

The nation is now annually witnessing as many deaths from Opioids and heroin in the nation as were lost during the entire Vietnam War. Governor Mead says policymakers have to think more broadly about the crisis. 

Wyoming State Legislature

A Senate legislative committee has approved two bills intended to help address the state’s opioid problem. One bill sets up a task force to determine what the problem is and what could be done about it and the other sets up tracking for controlled substance prescriptions in the state. 

Kemmerer Senator Fred Baldwin says they want to track prescriptions so they know who is getting what and how often. 

Pennie Hunt

This is the first in a series about prescription opioid drug addiction in Wyoming.

Cheyenne resident Pennie Hunt knew her youngest son JT wasn’t like other kids. As lovable and creative as he was, she said, “He grew up kind of as the daredevil and I always worried about him.”

JT struggled with anxiety.  By the time he was 14, he was addicted to his prescription medication. At 15, he went to his first stint in an out-of-state rehab center.

Miles Bryan

Kimberley Enyart was never interested in doing recreational drugs. But then she was in a car accident and her doctor prescribed a powerful opiate for the pain.

“It just, I don’t know it put me off in la-la land it made me feel better,” she said. “I don’t know, I loved it. I loved that high.”

When Enyart’s prescription ran out she did whatever she could to more from other doctors in town. Eventually, she moved on to dentists.

“I even had two back teeth pulled for it.”