In 2016, Utah was ranked 16th in the nation for opioid-related deaths. If you look at the top ten counties that misuse opioids in Utah, you’d see that eight out of ten counties are all rural communities. Leading those 10 counties are Emery, Duchesne, Kane and Beaver.
Some addicts have the opportunity to go to treatment, but once they leave, they often have limited resources making it hard to stay sober.
The USDA was asked to take a lead role in rural America and help Utah’s rural communities by addressing their opioid abuse. Randy Parker, the state director of USDA Rural Development says that time after time, the idea of recovery housing has been brought up.
“It gives them a safe place to be able to move to rather than being back in the environment that they had been in; this is to make progress in getting their lives under control," Parker said. "You know we just see this as one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.”
With the recovery housing, individuals can move from treatment centers into recovery housing where they would be able to continue their process of becoming sober. Jamie Welch-Jaro, the public information officer for USDA Rural Development, said that although Utah has many nonprofits that could help opioid abusers, once the nonprofits time-out, these individuals typically end up back where they started.
“They need additional help, and they're looking to agencies like ours to help provide solutions and just possibilities of ways that they can expand their reach and help as many people as possible,” Welch-Jaro said.
As for now, the timeline is unclear as for when Utah will start seeing these recovery houses around rural communities.