The Problem

The Hidden Dangers

Utah has an opioid problem. Deaths due to opioid drug misuse has reached epidemic levels and drug poisoning is currently the leading cause of deaths due to injuries for adults in the U.S. Drug poisoning deaths have outpaced deaths due to firearms, falls, and motor vehicle crashed in Utah. Too many Utahns are struggling in silence. It’s time to speak up and opt out of opioids.

Opioid Basics

An opioid is a drug commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain. Opioids work by stimulating opioid receptors in the brain which reduce pain. They are used in hospitals and are sometimes prescribed by doctors to help treat more severe pain and discomfort. Have a conversation with your health care provider before taking opioids. It’s likely they simply aren’t worth the risk.

Some common opioids include:

  • Hydrocodone (Norco, Lortab, Vicodin, Zohydro)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Roxicodone)
  • Morphine (MSIR, MS Contin)
  • Codeine (Tylenol #3, Phenergan with codeine)
  • Fentanyl  (Duragesic, Actiq)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Tramadol (Ultram, ConZip)
  • Buprenorphine (Subutex, Suboxone, Butrans, Zubsolv)
  • Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)

Opioids Can Be Overkill

Opioids are strong. They’re also highly addictive. That’s why they should be used carefully. Sometimes they are prescribed even though a safer medication would work just as well. In many cases, there are much safer and effective alternatives to help manage pain. Talk to your doctor or dentist before taking opioids to see what’s right for you. It’s more than likely that they simply aren’t worth the risk. Avoid addiction. Ask for alternatives treatments.



Don’t Add Addiction to Injury

Opioids are addictive. The longer you take opioids, the higher the risk for addiction. Prescription opioids are just as addictive as heroin. 80 percent of people who use heroin started with legal prescription opioids.

Preventing Addiction is the Best Cure

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that lasts a lifetime. Treatment opportunities, while effective, are limited. In Utah, less than 10 percent of the people with substance use disorder receives treatment they need.

The Signs of Opioid Addiction

Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of opioid addiction. Opioids can be dangerous and even deadly when misused. Signs and symptoms can be physical, behavioral, and psychological. If you or someone else you know is struggling with opioids and shows these signs, get help now. These are some of the things to look for.

  • Taking higher doses or taking more frequently than prescribed
  • “Craving” just one more pill or refill
  • Running out of prescriptions too soon
  • Compulsively seeking and using opioids despite harmful consequences
  • Taking the opioid for its psychological effects or to feel high
  • Taking the opioid for reasons other than why it was prescribed
  • Continuously “losing” prescriptions and requesting replacements
  • Mixing pills and alcohol
  • Seeking prescriptions for more than one injury or with multiple doctors or pharmacists
  • Exhibiting abnormal behaviors, hostility, excessive mood swings or sudden personality changes
  • Withdrawing from friends, family or social activities
  • Losing appetite and extreme changes in weight
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Distracted, unable to focus, confused
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Poor decision making

Get Help (2-1-1)

If you or someone you know shows several of the signs above, seek help. Dial 211. Utah has many treatment resources available for overcoming dependence and addiction to pain medications. Please contact your health insurance provider,, or call 2-1-1 for local services or treatment centers.