The Utah Stories Show—podcast
VeRonica Little witnesses the severity of Utah’s Opioid epidemic every day.
As Program Administrator for the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, she is on the front lines in a war that, at times, seems absolutely and dauntingly unwinnable .
The Opioid epidemic is so prevalent, and because of the nature and causes of addiction, it’s impossible, naive, even, to take a “one shoe fits all” approach. It’s just not logical.
“There’s not one thing that caused this [opioid epidemic], and there’s not one way to solve it.” Little says.
Bordered by addiction
Every year in the United States, 37,000 deaths occur due to auto accidents. That number is … well, it’s a huge number of deaths, a lot of which could have been prevented. But combine the number of preventable deaths contributed to heroin and Opioid overdose and, suddenly, that number pales in comparison.
It is estimated that 63,082 people die every year from heroin and opioid overdose. That’s nearly double the amount of deaths caused by automobile accidents.
Opioids, especially in the last 10–20 years, have swept a destructive path coast to coast, ruining lives and families. And the truly heartbreaking, dismaying reality of it, is many of these deaths came in the form of a prescription filled and picked up at some local pharmacy. Legally.
So if there isn’t one thing that caused this nation-wide crisis, if there isn’t one way to solve it, how do we effectively address this still-taboo topic?
In this Utah Stories Show, we sat down with Little to discuss causes, solutions, and what you can do if you suspect a loved one may be harboring an addiction.
Utah Kids Taking Heroin to Prevent Withdrawl
NBC Nightly News came to Utah back in October 2017 and covered the story of a nine-year-old boy Hayden who was found caring for his two younger siblings. His parents were heroin and meth addicts. Hayden was found caring for his younger siblings, ages four and his newborn baby brother. Both of Hayden’s younger siblings were receiving regular doses of both heroin and meth by their parents to prevent withdrawal symptoms. The situation was discovered by Hayden’s biological father and Hayden went to live with his father, who also attempted to care for his younger siblings. Eventually, his siblings had to be placed with grandparents. Hayden is now in a stable environment.
The situation where newborns are born addicted to drugs is nothing new Primary Children’s Hospital has special provisions they have implemented for newborns who are addicted to drugs due to their mother’s usage while pregnant. Utah Division of Child Welfare Services currently has hundreds of children seeking placement due to parental neglegence from the opioid epidemic in Utah.