HEALTH

“Prehab,” not rehab, may be key to opioid crisis

Aug 17, 2018, 8:21 AM | Updated: 8:22 am

SALT LAKE CITY — A top Trump administration health official says our best hope for curbing the opioid crisis may lie in the concept of “prehab,” or helping people avoid addiction in the first place, rather than rehabilitation after the fact.

Adm. Brett Giroir, Assistant Health Secretary, visited Utah’s Morning News on Friday to talk about what the White House is doing to fight the opioid epidemic. His visit coincides with a healthcare innovation symposium hosted by the Kem Gardner Policy Institute and the Hatch Center.

“The opioid crisis is truly the most important and challenging public health crisis of our time,” Giroir told KSL Newsradio. “Last year, in the country, we had over 72,000 people die of drug overdoses. And the great majority of those were from opioids like heroin or fentanyl.”

Giroir acknowledged that part of what’s challenging is how potent the drugs on the black market have become.

“Fentanyl is a very, very potent drug that is usually used only in intensive care units or in an operating room, but we are really seeing the illegal import of fentanyl, primarily from China, that gets into the drug supplies. So it is a very powerful opioid, about 1,000 times more powerful than some of the ones that you might get in a pill, and 100 times more than morphine or heroin,” Giroir says. “When someone takes that either accidentally or on purpose, it’s very, very high risk, and we see so many deaths from that.”

Giroir says Utah is no exception, with 662 overdose deaths in the last 12 months, and the majority again related to opioids.

“Even one death is too many,” Giroir says.

However, Utah is making progress. Nationwide, the rate of overdose deaths increased more than 7 percent in the last year, but Utah’s overdose death rate dropped over 12 percent. He called Utah a leader in the fight against the epidemic. One reason for that is the availability of Naloxone at any pharmacy in the state.

“There’s a standing order for that, which is just wonderful,” Giroir says, praising the effort to make Naloxone accessible. “If there’s anyone that you know, yourself or anyone who’s at risk of having an opioid overdose – if they’re on chronic opioids, if they have a problem with substance use disorder. Even if they’re on small amounts of opioids over taking other drugs — this is really a life-saving thing. It’s very easy to administer, and – you know, it doesn’t cure the disease of addiction, but it gives a person a second chance at life.”

Giroir says sometimes, that second chance is critical in terms of getting someone channeled into a rehabilitation or recovery program that helps them beat the addiction. But he says opioids aren’t the only problem – pointing to increased rates of alcoholism and teen suicide as indicators that we need to focus on the health of the society as a whole.

“We always talk about rehab. How about prehab?” he asks. “That’s why community empowerment, education, self-esteem, communication – all the things that build our communities are so important.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Health

Marijuana grows at Tryke Companies Utah's medical cannabis cultivation facility in Tooele...

Michael Camit

Ironing out Utah’s Medical Cannabis Program

Medical marijuana is one of Utah's most regulated substances, but lawmakers are still trying to iron out the wrinkles in the program.

3 days ago

North American hospitals are seeing a major increase -- 416% over the last two decades -- in teen m...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Decades-long study shows increase in eating disorders among young males

The study showed hospitalizations for young males with eating disorders were up 139%, and even higher in young teens.

3 days ago

Containers holding frozen embryos and sperm are stored in liquid nitrogen at a fertility clinic in ...

Jessica Lowell

The future of IVF in Utah following the Alabama Supreme Court embryo ruling

One expert says they won't know if Utah would interpret its wrongful death statute the same way Alabama did until a case came up .

3 days ago

Doctors analyze a screening of a colon...

Don Brinkerhoff

Younger colon cancer deaths are increasing significantly

Colon cancer deaths are rising and people are dying at a much younger age according to the American Cancer Society.

4 days ago

Rep. Tyler Clancy, R-Provo, speaks about HB261 at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 19,...

Aimee Cobabe

Lawmaker wants to increase maximum amount of time for involuntary civil commitments

Utah lawmakers are supporting a bill to increase the maximum amount of time for involuntary civil commitments.

4 days ago

woman with a therapeutic device on her head to treat depression...

LAURA UNGAR

A brain pacemaker helped a woman with crippling depression. It may soon be available to more people

Researchers say deep brain stimulation, or DBS — could eventually help many of the nearly 3 million Americans with treatment-resistance depression.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

“Prehab,” not rehab, may be key to opioid crisis