It may come as somewhat of a shock for most Utahns to learn that our state has one of the worst rates of opioid drug overdoses in our country. In fact, our state has been consistently ranked among the top 10 for opioid-related overdoses for the past decade. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600 people died from opioid-related overdoses in Utah during 2016 alone.
The data for 2016 showed a slight improvement over 2015 due to federal, state and local efforts via the Utah Opioid Task Force, as a result of its cracking down on the over-prescription and sale of legal pain-relieving medications that contain opioids. However, the rate of mortality has remained stubbornly high due to the spread of an illegally manufactured drug called fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid most people had never even heard of five years ago. It is such a potent drug that even a few milligrams of it — equivalent to a grain of rice — can be deadly for anyone who comes into contact with it — even accidentally.