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Federal Survey: Utah Had 326 Drug Deaths

Federal Survey: Utah Had 326 Drug Deaths

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A federal survey found Utah had 326 drug misuse deaths in Utah in 2003, not counting 45 drug-related suicides.

The findings are in a new report, "Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2003: Area Profiles of Drug-Related Mortality," which is based on data submitted by medical examiners and coroners.

In Utah, the top four drugs involved in drug misuse deaths were opiates, which include prescription pain relievers and heroin. Those are followed by antidepressants, cocaine and anti-anxiety drugs. Of the 326 drug-related deaths, only 24 involved a single drug.

"Most are what we call poly-drug users," said B.J. Van Roosendaal, a spokeswoman at the state Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. "When you combine several drugs with alcohol use, it has a real depressive effect on a person's system."

She said people are not aware how quickly the opiates are addicting.

"That is why a doctor gives you 18 Lortab and not 60," Van Roosendall said. "Pretty soon, one is not enough. I've known people who can take 10 or 15 at a time, and when that happens, you are cutting a line between getting high and suppressing your breathing so much you could overdose."

Fifty-six percent of drug misuse deaths were from the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. The rate of drug misuse deaths in Salt Lake City was 183 deaths per million people, compared to the rate for the state as a whole of 139 deaths per million,

The Provo-Orem area's rate was 128 deaths per million, and in Ogden-Clearfield it was 92 per million.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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