Utah State University (USU) Extension’s Health Extension: Advocacy, Research, & Teaching (HEART) Initiative in collaboration with faculty from the USU Department of Psychology have been awarded over $250,000 by the Utah Department of Health’s (UDOH) Overdose Data to Action. The project will focus on reducing stigma of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) in three opioid overdose hotspots across Utah. According to UDOH (2019) rural Carbon and Emery counties (47.7 deaths per 100,000 population) along with urban downtown Ogden (39.1 deaths per 100,000 population) lead the state and are substantially higher than the state average (17.4 deaths per 100,000 population).
HEART will continue to partner with local coalitions and care providers in these areas to reach those experiencing OUD, and family, friends, and community members. The project will provide communities with information about OUD, evidence-based treatment and prevention, and local resources to reduce the stigma around OUD.
Stigma is a major barrier for individuals with SUD (Luoma, 2010), as stigma reduces the likelihood of both seeking and completing treatment as well as maintaining recovery. The project aims to decrease stigma by communicating evidence-based information at in-person community events, with an ultimate goal of decreasing the harm caused by the opioid epidemic by promoting treatment. The project will also evaluate the effectiveness of the stigma-reducing strategies used. This will ensure that the information that is provided is impactful, is communicated effectively, and that HEART continues to provide valuable information to the communities we serve.
For this program, we welcome 2 new team members aboard who are focused solely on this grant and programming. Please welcome, Riley Marshall (Carbon & Emery County); and Chapel Taylor-Olsen, BA (Carbon & Emery County). We are also thrilled to welcome Hailey Judd, MPHc (HEART Graduate Student Intern) to the HEART team this summer to partner on this grant as well as other team projects.