Health Extension: Advocacy, Research, Teaching (HEART) is partnering locally and nationally to address the Opioid crisis and other pressing public health issues. The Health & Wellness faculty team serves the state of Utah. Five faculty are housed in nine counties where Opioid Use Disorder has had some of the most devastating effects. HEART seeks to coordinate on-the-ground efforts that advance evidence-based information, community-based solutions, and multi-sector partnerships.
HEART Team Highlights

The HEART Bunch Video Collaboration 

In April 2020, what began as a fun video idea turned into a monthly collaboration among the HEART team. Known as The HEART Bunch, the videos highlight a timely health and wellness topic with each faculty member taking turns sharing a tip that viewers can use in their daily lives. Topics covered include how to manage stress, staying connected with co-workers during COVID-19, and how to prevent burnout. Videos are posted on the HEART website toward the end of each month, so make sure to visit often to catch the latest one! View The HEART Bunch Videos, let us know what you think, and provide suggestions for future topics! 
Did You Know? 

FDA Label Changes for Opioid Pain Medicines

"On July 23, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that opioid pain medication and medicine used to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) must include information about naloxone, the overdose-reversal medication, on their labels. It is recommended that as a routine part of prescribing these medicines, health care providers will discuss the availability of naloxone with patients and caregivers, both when starting and renewing treatment. 

Additionally, the labeling changes recommend that health care professionals consider prescribing naloxone to patients being prescribed opioid pain medicines who are at increased risk of opioid overdose, including those who are also taking benzodiazepines or other medicines that depress the central nervous system; those who have a history of OUD; and those who have experienced a prior opioid overdose. 

This order goes into effect after new data shows that U.S. drug overdose deaths reached an all-time high of approx. 70,980, in 2019, surpassing the previous peak of approx. 70,237 recorded two years earlier in 2017. Opioids were involved in 46,802 overdose deaths in 2018 (69.5% of all drug overdose deaths) and in 2019, 50,042 overdoses (70.5% of all drug overdose deaths) involved opioids. 

Recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in overdose deaths as the unemployment rate has increased rapidly and Americans have lost access to health insurance. Many in-person health services including addiction clinics and syringe exchanges are also unavailable to many underserved populations. The fear is that the deaths from overdose will continue to increase during the pandemic.  

Naloxone, often referred to by the brand name Narcan, has been used in the U.S. to reverse opioid overdoses since 1971. While it's often prescribed in an injectable form, it’s also commonly sold as a nasal spray or a mechanized auto-injector, which makes the medication easier for people without medical training to deliver." Click here to read the full news release. 

Community Highlight
Stories of Utah’s Opioid Crisis - Virtual Community Conversations 

Following a nine-county community-driven oral history effort that gives voice to and documents the opioid crisis in Utah, the Opioid Stories Community Conversations aim to bring community members together to discuss the opioid epidemic. Interviews from the Stories of Utah’s Opioid Crisis Digital Collection formed the basis for the virtual community conversations hosted by the HEART team, Utah Humanities, USU Libraries, and community facilitators.  

Participants have joined the conversations without titles or positions, but as concerned community members, seeking to discover another perspective about the opioid crisis and ways we can support one another. Conversations have covered perspectives shared by participants including: working with people and not against them, meeting people where they are at, all of us being a piece in the puzzle in our efforts, and treating the brain the same as the body. 

Events were held in July and August in Tooele, Utah, Carbon, Emery, Davis, and Weber Counties. The last two events will be held in Salt Lake (8/13) and Cache & Box Elder Counties (8/18). There is still time to join in on the discussion by registering now: Salt Lake County and Cache & Box Elder Counties. You can also visit the Opioid Stories digital collection to hear the experiences of our community. 

Upcoming Events 
To prevent the spread of illness and promote health and wellness, USU Extension has moved some programming online. Please contact your county Extension office to see if they are offering in-person programs.
Carbon & Emery 
Opioid & Substance Use Coalition Meetings Now Online.

First Monday of the month from 11:00 am - noon 
Now held online
Please email Ashley Yaugher, PhD for the meeting link.
Peer Support Specialist Hybrid Online/Broadcast/In-Person Trainings will start in August 2020.

Contact Maren Voss at for more information.
Free Virtual
Safe Messaging Training

Suicide Prevention & Awareness

2 Dates Available 
Sept. 4, 2020 | 1:00 - 2:00 pm 
Sept. 25, 2020 | 10:00 - 11:00 am 

Contact Amy Mikkelsen at for more information or to RSVP.
Living Well with Chronic Pain 
Now offered as a virtual class for the first time.

Contact Rebbi Burdett at for more information.
Stories of Utah’s Opioid Crisis
In partnership with Utah Humanities and USU Libraries 

Registration is required to attend these online events.

Salt Lake County
August 13 | 6:30 - 8 PM | Register
Cache & Box Elder Counties
August 18 | 6:30 – 8 PM | Register

For more information, contact Kandice Atismé at
A Light to Remember
This year, beginning Aug. 29, two locations will host drive-by lantern-dedications and resource events in conjunction with virtual programming around International Overdose Awareness Day. With the isolation of COVID-19, the need is greater than ever to connect with those grieving, in recovery, and/or seeking information and resources

August 29 | Kaysville
Mindfulness: A Practice to Nurture the Heart, 10:00-11:00 AM, Virtual. Register.
Recovery Dharma Group Meeting hosted by USARA 1:00-2:00 PM, Virtual. Register.
Drive-up Tribute with Naloxone Trainings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Register.

August 31 | Virtual
Overdose Awareness Day Live Stream hosted by Recovery Rockstars, TBD (Virtual)

For more information click here.
Want more information on upcoming events?
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