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Front Page » July 24, 2008 » Carbon County News » Prevention group moves forward
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Prevention group moves forward


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By C.J. MCMANUS
Sun Advocate community editor

As data continues to come in, community members and substance abuse professionals are moving forward with prevention programs sponsored by a state incentives grant.

The group will now submit its data and after receiving approval, move forward with focus group sessions.

The State Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant program is rooted in producing evidence based efforts that will aid the community in addressing specific substance abuse problems.

The program uses five steps for aiding communities with substance abuse issues, including:

•Assessment - by profiling the population and its needs. Resources are then inventoried and made ready to address needs and gaps.

•Capacity - community members and health professionals are mobilized to build the capacity needed to meet specific problems.

•Planning - a strategic and comprehensive plan is developed.

•Implementation - evidence based prevention is implemented through programs and activities.

•Evaluation - participants are monitored and evaluated so improvements can be posed to the community.

While underage drinking and its drastic consequences have been demonstrated to the local community in the last year, local prescription medication abuse was singled out as the focus for the state incentive grant.

The 2007 medical examiners report identified 519 total drug related deaths with three cases still pending. Of the 519 in Utah, six were reported in Carbon County alone.

Hydrocodone was responsible for four of the six deaths as it is the most frequently prescribed opiate.

It is often used to treat moderate to severe pain and has properties similar to that of morphine.

Hydrocodone is also frequently used in antitussive cough suppressants and can be easily accessed by underage users, according to committee members.

Diphenhydramine, commonly found in Benadryl, was also identified as one of the substances to cause an overdose in 2007 in Carbon County, indicated the committee.

The incident shows that over-the-counter medication can also be dangerous when abused.

Many oral preparations of diphenhydramine contain analgesics such as acetaminophen or aspirin, which can be toxic to the liver in high doses, pointed out the committee.

The last local overdose examined by the group was caused by oxycodone, the generic version of the same drug that makes up OxyContin.

OxyContin is a time released medication that, when abused, is dangerous and habit forming, according to the committee's literature.

The negative effects of the drug include:

•Physical dependence.

•Severe respiratory depression that can lead to death when taken in large dosages.

•Withdrawal symptoms that can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, cold flashes with goose bumps and involuntary and painful leg movements.

The different focus groups will be broken up by age, explained the committee.

While all age groups will receive the attention of the grant program, the committee spent a significant amount of time discussing the dangers for individuals younger than 18 and between 18 to 25 years of age.

"The more use you have going on in the 18- to 25-year-old group, the more drugs that are available our underage youth because that age group tends to be where a major amount of the dealing comes from. If we can create prevention and intervention for that group of individuals we can put a dent in the whole cycle." said committee member Nathan Marvidakis.

With the information gathered at the pending focus group sessions the committee is planning to develop educational programs for users, patients, prescribers, teachers, treatment professionals and area youth.

Additionally the committee members are hoping to gather information that will assist parents and law enforcement to identify the signs of substance abuse in its early stages.

"We have seen a great deal of success with the kids who became involved with the juvenile justice program," pointed out committee member David Cox. "The consequences are very real to them because when they get in trouble at school we don't call their parents we call the probation officer but we have to find a way to help the kids that are not involved with the courts."

As the assessment process moves forward, committee members are also looking to develop the projects capacity.

"Anyone is welcome to join this committee," said SPF-SIG chairperson Liz Ferguson. "It is open to the community and anyone with an interest in stopping prescription drug abuse in this area.

The group's next meeting will take place on Aug. 12 at 1 p.m. at Four Corners Behavioral Health.

For additional information, Carbon County residents may contact Liz Ferguson at 637-2358.

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