Tribal Opioid Wellness Summit: Bridging Harm Reduction and Recovery

May 18, 2021

Utah State University Extension Tribal and Rural Opioid Initiative Resource Center is holding a wellness summit on opioid harm reduction. Joining me today is Dr. Sandra Sulzer, USU, Extension Health, and Wellness Specialist.

Kailey Foster: What's the purpose of the summit?

Dr. Sandra Sulzer: The purpose of the summit is really to bring together everyone who's concerned about opioid substance use harm reduction, and making their community become ready to be support people in recovery.

KF: The title of this summit is Bridging Harm Reduction and Recovery in Rural Communities. How can someone do this?

SS: I think a lot of the time when people hear about substance use, they think they don't personally have an experience with that, or a family member with that, that it doesn't apply to them. 

What is helpful is for all of us to realize that everyone in our community is interconnected. Whether you've been touched by this personally, it's a part of your family story, or it's something your uncomfortable talking about- attending an event like this is a way to get a little bit more comfortable and reduce some of the stigmas that exist in society. 

The more we talk about these hard topics- the more comfortable we become doing the work to improve society for all of us.

KF: We talked about rural communities in that title, and it seems like it's targeting that rural Utah. What about people in more urban areas? Can this information in the summit be applicable to them?

SS: Absolutely. This information is applicable to everyone. Part of why we focus on rural communities is that they tend to have fewer resources and less access to treatment and care. 

However, most of the care that people access ends up being in urban centers like Salt Lake City. If you are from an urban area, you're still going to find a lot of information that applies to you.

This is hosted by the Tribal and Rural Opioid Initiative. We have a strong Native American focus on the work that we do. And a lot of our Native American community lives in urban areas. 

Even if you are from an urban area, I invite you to attend- there is truly something here for everyone.

KF: Where can people find the information on this?

SS: We have a web link, we invite you to check that out there, and you can see a full list of all of the speakers and lunchtime activities.