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Utah is located in the Western United States, and is the 13th largest and 34th most populous state in the nation. The population is currently at about 2,855,287, 80% of which live along the Wasatch Front which is located in the area of Salt Lake City. The remainder of the state is nearly uninhabited. Utah is bordered by Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Arizona and a small corner on the southeast touches New Mexico. Utah is the fifth fasting growing state in the nation, and was rated by Gallup in 2012 as the best state to live in when measured by economy, lifestyle, and health. The St. George Metropolitan area of Utah is currently the second-fastest growing area in the country. About 80% of Utah residents are non-Hispanic Whites, while 13% are Hispanic or Latino and the rest are .9% Black on non-Hispanic Black, 1% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 1.8% of two or more races.

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This week's topic is:

Utah Drug Use Trends

Utah's natural beauty stems from its three distinct geological regions: The Rocky Mountains, The Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau. With approximately 62% of the 2,949,902 state residents being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, Mormons) the steep rise in prescription drug addiction is surprising. While the religion's health law "Word of Wisdom" discourages followers of the faith from consuming things that are harmful to their bodies, many Mormons have succumbed to prescription drug addiction. It is thought this rising epidemic among LDS members is due to a gray area in the religions health law - doctor prescribed medication. Addiction can affect anyone who uses an addictive substance and individuals who uphold a high ideal of healthy living are not immune. The unfortunate reality is that many of the Mormons who succumbed to prescription drug addiction began their downward decent by using medications prescribed by their physician. Under the assumption that everything would be ok, their continued prescription drug use spiraled into abuse and inevitability addiction.

Changing Utah's Laws

As the state's prescription drug problem continues to garner national attention, White House officials address Utah's prescription drug abuse problem. One of the items discussed is changing state laws to prevent drug abuse, prevent drug overdose and provide treatment options for addicted residents. The Affordable Care Act has been summited and in it lays the ability to make a huge difference in Utah's capability to address the above issues. The act would bridge the financial gap between those in need of addiction treatment and the resources to provide them with care.

Another change in the works is the Good Samaritan Bill. This bill would grant those who report drug overdoses immunity in some of charges they may have faced by seeking help for an individual struggling with a drug overdose. This change to Utah's law will work to protect individuals who are aware of a drug overdose and pursues care for the victim, without fear of being charged with a crime themselves.

Lastly, Utah state officials are working on legislation that allows police officers as well as the general public to carry naloxone; a medication used in the event of an overdose from opioids (heroin, morphine, prescription painkillers, etc.).


While alcoholism (23.3%) was the leading cause of Utah drug rehab enrollments in 2013, amphetamines (20.4%) followed at a close second. The state is inundated with meth smuggled in from Mexico, California and Colorado. While limited, there are local clandestine meth labs generating high-purity methamphetamine in small quantities. While state law enforcement continues to eradicate both small and large scale clandestine meth labs throughout Utah, the methamphetamine problem in the state rages on.

  • While the number of meth labs has declined over the years from 272 in 1999 down to 3 in 2007, use of this substance continues terrorize the state.
  • Utah's County Major Crimes Task Force estimates 95% of the meth in the United States is smuggled into the country by Mexican drug cartels using major roadways and interstates.
  • 2,833 individuals enrolled in Utah drug rehab programs for meth addiction during 2013.
  • 54.9% of meth addiction enrollments during 2013 in Utah drug rehabs were male and 45.1% were female.
  • The largest age group to receive treatment for meth addiction during 2013 in Utah drug rehab programs was between the ages of 31-35 years old.
  • In 2010, Quest Diagnostics reported that Utah's workforce urine samples tested 120% higher for meth than the national average.
  • The meth epidemic in Utah can be traced back to the fact that it was one of three states that allowed the unrestricted sales of precursor chemicals to create meth. This resulted in Utah becoming a source state for meth precursor chemicals. While the laws have changed over the years, it appears it was too little too late a change for the residents of Utah.

Treatment Options

With state and local initiatives encouraging residents to seek addiction rehabilitation at inpatient programs, many addicted individuals are regaining control over their lives. Considered the gold standard in addiction recovery, long-term inpatient and residential drug rehab programs provide a considerable number of benefits that outpatient care is unable to offer. By attending a long-term residential inpatient Utah drug rehab program residents are able to leave behind their day to day life as they focus on their recovery. They reside in a safe drug-free environment and have the time they need to complete the withdrawal process, uncover the underling issues that drove them to substance abuse, develop skills to prevent future drug or alcohol use, practice relapse prevention techniques and create an aftercare plan to prepare them for their newly gained sobriety.

Population in Utah:2,469,585
State Prison Population in Utah:5,989
Probation Population in Utah:10,244
Violent Crime Rate in Utah:
National Ranking:1
2007 Federal Drug Seizures in Utah:
Cocaine seizures in Utah:18.2 kgs.
Heroin seizures in Utah:8.4 kgs.
Methamphetamine seizures in Utah:31.9 kgs.
Marijuana seizures in Utah:9.9 kgs.
Hashish seizures in Utah:0.0 kgs.
MDMA seizures in Utah:0.0 kgs./3,128 du
Meth Lab Incidents in Utah:3
(DEA, Utah, and local city Law Enforcement)
Drug Situation in Utah:
  • Mexican poly-drug trafficking organizations dominate all areas of illegal narcotics distribution throughout Utah.
  • Sources of supply in Utah for methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana are mainly located in Mexico, California, the Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest.

  • Kilogram amounts of cocaine are available throughout Utah.
  • Mexican organizations dominate large-scale cocaine distribution in Utah, although numerous other groups are capable of distributing kilogram quantities.
  • Prices for cocaine powder remain stable in Utah.
  • Crack cocaine is available in small quantities in Utah.
  • Conversion of powder cocaine into crack cocaine occurs at the local level in Utah.

  • Heroin is a serious problem in Utah.
  • Mexican brown and black tar heroin are available throughout Utah, with multi-ounce and larger amounts distributed in the major cities.
  • Most Mexican heroin distribution organizations employ "runners" who deliver heroin-filled balloons to their customers in parking lots throughout Salt Lake, Davis, and Utah Counties.
  • Mexico and Southern California are the source areas for multi-ounce and pound quantities of heroin brought into Utah.
  • In Utah most Mexican organizations trafficking in heroin distribute cocaine and methamphetamine as well.

  • Seizures of methamphetamine labs have declined substantially over the past several years in Utah.
  • In Fiscal Year (FY) 2007, only 9 labs and/or dumpsites were seized in Utah. This is the lowest amount of labs seized in recent memory and a far cry from the peak of 272 in FY 1999. This decline is attributed to a number of factors, including strict precursor legislation, community awareness and education campaigns, as well as aggressive law enforcement efforts.
  • At this time, most labs discovered in Utah are small, as measured by the amount of product made per cook, and rudimentary. Most are mobile labs that use the "red, white, and blue" method of manufacture.
  • The dramatic decline in locally produced methamphetamine in Utah has been accompanied by an escalation in the availability of Mexican methamphetamine.
  • Debriefings of former methamphetamine cooks in Utah suggest that purchasing Mexican methamphetamine is now far easier and cheaper than acquiring the chemicals and the secure location needed to manufacture it.
  • Mexican poly-drug trafficking organizations dominate the distribution of methamphetamine in Utah, which is now mostly produced in Mexico, southern California, or the Southwest.
  • The methamphetamine supplied by these organizations has increased in price in the last year in Utah. In several recent investigations, traffickers charged $1,100 per ounce of methamphetamine, as compared to as little as $650-$700 per ounce in late 2005.

  • MDMA and other designer drugs are a problem around the Wasatch Front of Utah.
  • MDMA and other club drugs are available primarily through bars, clubs, and private parties, as well as "rave" dances in Utah.
  • Distribution of MDMA and other designer drugs in Utah is controlled by local criminal organizations with domestic sources of supply primarily located in California.
  • Local organizations in Utah usually acquire multi-thousand pill quantities of MDMA tablets.
  • One local dealer in Utah reportedly charged $6.00-$7.per tablet and made approximately cents profit per pill. At the user level, prices rise to $10-$25 per pill.

    1.Most of the marijuana encountered in Utah is of Mexican origin.
  • Marijuana is also grown in the remote areas of Utah, which are most conducive for growing operations due to the fertile soil.
  • The importation of marijuana from British Columbia, Canada, remains a problem in Utah.

  • Current investigations show that diversion of OxyContin continues to be a problem in Utah.
  • Primary methods of diversion of pharmaceuticals being reported in Utah are illegal sale and distribution by health care professionals and workers, "doctor shopping", forged prescriptions, and employee theft.
  • Diazepam, meperidine, and methadone were identified as being among the most commonly abused and diverted pharmaceuticals in Utah.

  • The State of Utah is involved in the Rocky Mountain HIDTA, which is based in Denver, Colorado. The DEA Metro Narcotics Task Force receives funding from HIDTA. In mid-200a HIDTA Investigative Support Center (ISC) was established in Utah and co-located with the DEA Salt Lake City District Office. The ISC supports drug task forces throughout Utah.

  • In 1995 a program was created known as the DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams, or "MET". This was in response to the overwhelming problem of drugs and drug-related crimes across the nation. There have been two MET deployments in the State of Utah since the inception of the program, in Salt Lake City and Midvale, Utah.
  • There were 184 drug violation arrests in Utah in 2007.

State Policy Offices : Utah

  • Governor's Office Office of the Governor
    State Capitol, Room 210
    Salt Lake City, UT 84114
    (801) 533-5231
  • State Legislative Contact Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel
    State Capitol, Room 436
    Salt Lake City, UT 84114
    (801) 538-1032
  • State Drug Program Coordinator Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice
    State Capitol, Room 101
    Salt Lake City, UT 84114
    (801) 538-1031

State Criminal Justice Offices : Utah

  • Attorney General's Office Office of the Attorney General
    State Capitol, Room 236
    Salt Lake City, UT 84114
    (801) 533-5261
  • Law Enforcement Planning Council for Crime Prevention
    Utah Department of Public Safety
    DOT/Public Safety Building
    4501 South 2700 West
    Salt Lake City, UT 84119
    (801) 965-4587
  • Statistical Analysis Center Research Division
    Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice
    State Capitol, Room 101
    Salt Lake City, UT 84114
    (801) 538-1059
  • Uniform Crime Reports Contact Uniform Crime Reports
    Utah Department of Public Safety
    4501 South 2700 West
    Salt Lake City, UT 84119
    (801) 965-4577
  • BJA Strategy Preparation Agency Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice
    State Capitol, Room 101
    Salt Lake City, UT 84114
    (801) 538-1031
  • Judicial Agency Office of Court Administrator
    230 South 500 East, Suite 300
    Salt Lake City, UT 84102
    (801) 533-6371
  • Corrections Agency Department of Corrections
    6065 South 300 East
    Salt Lake City, UT 84107
    (801) 261-2817

State Health Offices : Utah

  • RADAR Network Agency Utah State Division of Substance Abuse
    120 North 200 West, Fourth Floor
    Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0500
    (801) 538-3939
  • HIV-Prevention Program Utah Department of Health
    Bureau of HIV/AIDS
    P.O. Box 16660
    Salt Lake City, UT 84116-0660
    (801) 538-6191
  • Drug and Alcohol Agency Division of Alcoholism and Drugs
    Department of Social Services
    Social Services Building
    150 West North Temple Street
    Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0500
    (801) 533-6532

State Education Office : Utah

  • State Coordinator for Drug-Free Schools Drug-Free School Coordinator
    Utah State Office of Education
    Drug-Free Schools Program
    250 East 500 South
    Salt Lake City, UT 84111
    (801) 538-7713

Utah: Substance Abuse Trends & Statistics

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