Utah Drug Rehab programs help you stop your addiction. Drug traffickers dominate almost all aspects of illegal drugs in Utah. Suppliers of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana are located in Mexico, the Southwest and California and these drugs are trafficked to Utah in a variety of ways.
Drug Use in the State of Utah
Although Utah is mostly known for the predominant Mormon religion, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it is not free from drug use and abuse that plagues the rest of the nation. Even Utah is not immune to the effects and influences of illegal drugs.
Research on drug use, abuse and addiction is done monthly and annually by The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH), The Utah County Health Department, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), as well as surveys done around the state. Here are some of their findings:
- 6.7% of Utah youths ages 12-17 used illicit drugs within the past month of being surveyed (this is lower than the national average of 9.8%)
- 5.6% of Utah youths ages 12-17 used cigarettes within the past month of being surveyed (this is near the national average of 7.2%)
- The average age of first use of marijuana use is 14
- The average age of first use of nonmedical use of psychotherapeutics was 13
- The average age of first use of cigarettes was 12.9
- The average age of first use of alcohol was 13.3
- Within the past year, 98,000 people age 12 or older (4.5%) were dependent on alcohol and or abused alcohol. The national average is slightly higher at 6.6%
- 58,000 people age 12 or older (2.7%) were dependent on illicit drugs or abused illicit drugs within the past year. This is right in line with the national average, which is 2.9%.
- 6% of Utahns reported using illicit drugs within the past month, with the national average being 8%. These are very close in number.
Drug Trends for Utah
So what are the drug trends across Utah? In which county are drugs more prevalent, and in which county is it less?
The lowest county for substance abuse in Utah is Utah County, however, that does not diminish the fact that there is still a significant problem statewide. Weber County has the highest rate of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and prescription drug use. Meth use and production have been the primary drug threat in Utah statewide, however recent statistics show that meth labs are actually on the decline as a whole. Reasons for this are being attributed to even stricter legislation, education within the community (letting people within the schools and beyond what methamphetamines are and what they do), increased awareness of the drug and more aggressive means from law enforcement in shutting down meth . Meth labs that are still present are usually on the smaller side, which is a sharp contrast to the bigger labs that were commonly found only a few years ago. Even with meth use slowly heading toward a decline, it is still a major presence, with women being the majority of the users. It should not by any means be discounted as a threat.
Both marijuana and alcohol have been a steady problem, with reports of marijuana use rising. Researchers believe current relaxed attitudes nationwide about the drug, as well as increased legalization in certain states have attributed to rising use. Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Dora Volkow states, “We should be extremely concerned that 12 percent of 13- to 14-year-olds are using marijuana. The children whose experimentation leads to regular use are setting themselves up for declines in IQ and diminished ability for success in life.” Researchers say these reports should be a wake up call for both public health officials and parents. Teachers and especially parents need to be on the lookout for signs of drug use which include (but are not limited to) a significant drop in grades, decreased interest in previously enjoyable activities, irritability and secretiveness.
Cocaine is also present in the state. Most quantities are found along the Wasatch Range from Provo to Ogden. Although it is not as big of a presence in Utah as other drugs, it is still a significant concern. Crack cocaine is mostly found in bigger cities and not as much of an issue, even with Salt Lake City in northern Utah.
Heroin is an up and coming problem for Utah, with use doubling within the past five years. Heroin, like cocaine, is highly addictive and can hook the user the first time it is used. The most common forms of heroin are Mexican Brown and Black Tar. The heroin supply in Utah comes primarily from California after being smuggled in through Mexico.
Club drugs such as GHB and MDMA aren’t as big of a problem for Utah as it is in bigger cities with a more prominent club scene, but they are still available, especially along the Wasatch Front. These drugs, along with LSD and other types of hallucinogens, are found at dance clubs and private parties or raves.
So where do all of these drugs come from? Officials say the drug trafficking organizations that end up in Utah originate in Mexico, but supply for cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana also come from the Southwest, Pacific Northwest and California. Some marijuana growth can be found in more remote areas of Utah where the soil is more fertile, but the quantities are smaller because the supply is more limited.
Current Drug Problems/Issues in Utah
The biggest up and coming drug problem facing Utah today are prescription painkillers, even with heroin reportedly making a comeback due to it being easy to find and cheaper than pills. Director of the Utah Addiction Center at the University of Utah, Dr. Glen Hanson, says, “It’s a big problem here in the state of Utah. I’d say we are up near the top in the country, and that’s unusual for substance abuse. For almost every other drug of abuse, whether its tobacco, or alcohol, or cocaine, or heroin, we’re usually way down near the lowest in the country.”
So why would Utah have a higher number of prescription pill abusers than the rest of the country? It may be associated with the prominent culture in Utah. Researchers believe one reason why prescription drug abuse is so prevalent is because not everyone believes it can be associated with having a drug problem, while other drugs like marijuana and cocaine are smoked or snorted and therefore the application of the drug is obvious. Instead, pills are legal and not seen as the same thing as sticking a needle in one’s arm, such as a heroin user. They believe that is why it can be so easy for abusers to become addicted, because they don’t expect that they will be. Randy Lythgoe, an agent with the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force said, “It’s becoming an accepted thing to do in high school, because they (students) don’t associate danger with it.” Users may see it as harmless as popping ibuprofen or Tylenol, just a bit stronger, and before they know it they are in trouble.
If pill abuse is such a problem, then how do people obtain illegal prescriptions? Research states the easiest way to get pills is from the medicine cabinets of family and friends, or shop different doctors to get more than one prescription. And there’s always the old standby of buying on the street, where pills like Lortab are anywhere from three dollars to five dollars per pill. Those of us who keep currently prescribed pills in our homes are encouraged to keep an eye on them and remove them when company comes over.
Two teens who were interviewed for a “The State of Teens” series in the Deseret Morning News gave an inside look as to the drug problems they have faced in the public school system. They say it is easy to get drugs and alcohol; some people sell it from their lockers or cars, have friends or family members buy it for them, or simply take it from their family liquor cabinets. They confirm that the most common and popular drugs circulating are alcohol, marijuana and meth. There is also “huffing,” which is another way of getting high by inhaling chemical fumes like paint, white-out, lighter fluid, etc. This can be done covertly in class by doing things like painting white-out on their nails and sniffing it during class, or even soaking a wrist band in fumes and wearing it around. They admit that teens are getting more and more creative in ways to abuse and use drugs.
Some reports have made inferences that sports drinks may be preemptive to the problem of later drug use. Susan Chilton, the director of at-risk programs for Jordan School District, said that protein drinks and creatine can be considered gateway drugs, and families who give these drinks to their children may be unknowingly perpetuating the problem. Chilton defends her statement, saying, “What is it saying about our society that physically felling isn’t enough for our teenagers, that they have to feel ten times as good by taking X or Ecstacy. That all sensory perceptions have to be heightened. That the lights have to be three times as bright and everything has to feel three times as good.” This can be viewed as a gateway drug because enhanced sports drinks can be loaded with caffeine, which then make the user feel a “buzz” for a while, especially if the user doesn’t make a habit of drinking caffeine. As the user gets used to these enhanced sports drinks, a higher quantity will be needed to feel the effects. This follows the path of other drug use, in which a higher quantity is needed after the drug has been introduced to the system for a while.
Crime Rates Related to Drug Use in Utah
Crime rates are on the rise in Utah, especially among teenagers, and officials attribute it to a growing drug problem because of the availability of both drugs and alcohol. As the availability of drugs increase, the rate of crime increases as well, which researchers are finding a correlation between. The same can be true for other states in the same predicament around the nation.
Popular Drug Use in Utah
Alcohol use is still prevalent, with studies from the Student Health and Risk Assessment (SHARP) survey given biannually to public school students showing that underage drinking begins in elementary school, and binge drinking being common by the tenth grade. In other survey results, the kids who said to have been drunk within the last year stated their parents believed they were non-drinkers.
According to researchers, one in ten 12th-graders have also reported using a prescription drug for non-prescription purposes. Again, the abuse of painkillers ranks second only to marijuana as the nation’s most rampant drug problem, with Utah in the pack of forerunners.
Drug use in the state is not dominated by one particular demographic. In fact, reports state that more than seventy-two percent of adults in treatment for substance abuse had a diploma from school, with twenty-three percent having some college education. However, women tend to be more willing to undergo treatment than men for abuse of prescription drugs in particular, but that does not necessarily mean they use drugs more often than men.
On an interesting note, perception may be part of the problem regarding drug use and abuse, or rather the perceived notions concerning alcohol and drug use. The Utah Health Department teamed up with some students from Ogden’s Bonneville High School and found that teens believe their peers are using drugs and alcohol more than they actually are. For example, one survey showed that students thought sixty-seven percent of their fellow classmates drank alcohol on a weekly basis, but only twenty-two percent actually were. Some of the students who were part of the study thought that one reason could be that those who use alcohol are more outspoken about it in order to make their peers think everybody is doing it.
One teen openly discussed his previous drug use with researchers, particularly regarding marijuana use. He says he did drugs because he thought it made him tougher, and he wanted to look cool. Another study-taker said a friend of hers became addicted to marijuana and, within a year, had flunked out of school and lost his girlfriend because all he wanted to do was get high.
Deaths Associated with Drug Use in Utah
In 2013, Utah had the 8th highest drug overdose mortality rate in all of the United States. That is 16.9 per 100,000 people, which is higher than the national average. The majority of overdose deaths are due to the new killer: prescription drugs. These deaths have increased by 59% since 1999, and now outnumber deaths from heroin and cocaine combined, according to a report by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). Police and doctors who treat substance abuse patients state that more people died in 2012 alone from prescription drugs than from traffic accidents. The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health’s annual report in 2012, about 23 people die from prescription abuse in Utah. The number of deaths from prescription overdose has risen over 400 percent since the year 2000.
Utah is not alone in prescription drug overdose fatalities; it is the number one cause of death due to injury in most states, calculating to approximately 50 Americans dying every day due to that cause alone. And these deaths are not just from kids; one researcher stated that the average Utahn who dies from a prescription drug overdose is 40 years old, usually overweight and taking a prescription pill.
These prescription pill overdose deaths are preventable for the most part, as stated by the Utah Department of Health. They advise people to use pills appropriately and throw away leftover prescriptions, although the only way to truly remove the chemicals is to incinerate the pills at three thousand degrees.
But prescription drugs are not the only killer. The average deaths last year attributed to alcohol are as follows:
- Age 0-19 = 23 deaths
- Age 20-34 = 103 deaths
- Age 35-49 = 124 deaths
- Age 50-64 = 146 deaths
- Over Age 65 = 117 deaths
Heroin is also making a deadly statement in Utah, holding the 6th highest overdose rate for opiates per capita.
Use of CBT for Drug Addiction
CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, can be used for those in the throes of drug addiction. It is basically learning and applying skills that will correct problematic behaviors caused by and associated with drug addiction. Coping strategies are used to help those with drug addiction learn self-control and recognize cravings, as well as avoid high-risk situations. It has been established that thoughts influence behavior, and unhealthy thought patterns can lead to addictive behaviors such as drugs, alcohol abuse and even gambling.
The basic layout for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy includes developing positive thought patterns, building and enhancing self-esteem, resisting peer pressure, gradual steps and continuing normal activities.