March 11, 2017

Opioid Addiction: A Call to Action

Addiction comes in many shapes and sizes. However, stigmas still exist. Many of us imagine addiction as a homeless addict on the streets, barely surviving, waiting for their next hit. And while that type of addiction still exists, addiction can be found in every layer of society, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, social class, religion or area of the country.

Even though we now know addiction is a disease and can be treated, the emotional and relational anguish of addiction cannot be ignored. All of us are impacted by addiction and addiction can happen to anyone. As one expert puts it, “Addiction is something really simple; something you can’t stop.”[i] Because many addicts can’t stop, the damage to our personal lives, health, families and communities is tremendous. Addiction is associated with higher levels of physical and sexual abuse, suicide and homicide, physical violence, depression, anxiety, heart attacks and strokes, divorce, and, ultimately, death. The damage is exponential.

The federal government and state of Utah have both launched campaigns on stopping opioid addiction, as deaths have reached all-time highs. In fact, in August of 2016, for the first time in the 145-year history of the Office of the Surgeon General, 2.3 million doctors, nurses, dentists and other clinicians received a letter from the Surgeon General asking them to address America’s escalating opioid epidemic. Vivek Murphy, Surgeon General, states, “I chose to take these actions because of the magnitude and trajectory of the opioid epidemic…deaths involving prescription and illicit opioids has nearly quadrupled since 2000…In addition, more than 2 million people are addicted to prescription opioids and more than 12 million report having misused these medications in 2015.”[ii]

In the state of Utah, we are losing six people a week to opioid addiction, with Utah ranking 7th in the nation in drug overdose deaths.[iii] They have recently launched a “Stop Opidemic” campaign to reduce opioid addiction.

Portrait of a handsome young man giving a piggyback ride to his girlfriend – Outdoor

Fortunately, several organizations exist in Southern Utah that can offer treatment for those suffering. For example, Steps Recovery provides residential, day treatment, and intensive outpatient groups for all types of addiction. Southwest Healing & Wellness has recently opened to specifically address opioid addiction with clients that have pain conditions. Dr. Jon Obray, medical director of Southwest Healing & Wellness, states, “The combination of pain and opioid addiction is complex, with few centers in the country treating in in an integrated fashion.”

Personally, I have had family and friends struggle with addiction. I have witnessed clients die because of addiction. I have seen families torn apart, parents bury their children and children become emotionally abused casualties because of addiction. It is mean and ugly. At the same time, I have deep compassion for those struggling. They are our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, neighbors, church members and friends. They need us. The addiction is what is ugly, not them. Let’s join forces and come together more and more to take back those that are currently lost and prevent the pain of addiction. We can all do our part.

For more information, contact Southwest Healing & Wellness at 435-986-7100 or visit

[i] Joe Dispenza (2004). “What the Bleep do we Know?” Film produced by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

[ii] Murthy, V. H. (2016). Ending the Opioid Epidemic – A Call to Action. The New England Journal of Medicine, 375, 2413 – 2415.

[iii] Vaifanua, T. (2017). “Stop Opidemic” campaign launced to compat Utah’s opioid epidemic.


Check out our Southern Utah Health & Wellness Directory at

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