Utah has the 10th lowest population density and the 13th largest area in the United States. It has a total population of over 3 million people, although 80 percent of them are concentrated in the Wasatch Front. This metropolitan region comprises a small portion of north-central Utah, while the rest of the state is sparsely populated.

About 62 percent of Utahns belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), commonly known as the Church of Mormon. This statistic means that Utah is the only state in which the majority of residents belong to a single church. The high percentage of Mormons in Utah has a profound effect on that state’s culture, including drug use. For example, the LDS “Word of Wisdom” is a doctrine that strongly discourages Mormons from consuming substances that may be harmful, especially alcohol and illegal drugs. Some Mormons also include coffee in this list of harmful substances.

Treatment Centers in Utah

Utah has a large amount of undeveloped public land that’s used only for recreational purposes, so Utah has more wilderness-based rehab programs than other states.

New Roads Treatment Center (Sandy)

The New Roads Treatment Center is located in a residential neighborhood and is one of the highest-rated rehab centers in Utah. It offers a gym and classes in art, music, and yoga.

Second Nature Wilderness Program (Duchesne)

The Second Nature Wilderness Program provides wilderness-based programs for people of all ages. The programs are tailored for each age group and offer a unique approach to drug rehab.

Recovery Ways (Salt Lake City)

The Recovery Ways facilities include private rooms with bathrooms and a team of medical professionals. It has a structured program that includes fitness classes, nutritional meals, and recreational activities.

Youth Services (Salt Lake City)

Youth Services is a treatment center for young people, primarily teenagers. It provides residential and outpatient treatment at a variety of levels that are guided by licensed professionals.

Treatment Duration

The duration of a drug treatment program depends on its type, which includes detoxification, short-term and long-term programs. Detoxification, or detox, is the initial phase that ends the person’s physical dependence on the drug. This phase can take up two weeks, depending on the specific method and severity of dependence. Detox may be a separate phase from short-term rehab or part of short-term rehab, depending on the program.

The duration of short-term rehab is typically about 30 days. They’re more common than long-term rehab, primarily because short-term rehab is more likely to be paid by health insurance. People who can’t afford to pay for rehab are therefore limited to the duration that their insurance will cover. Furthermore, longer stays in a treatment facility are more difficult for someone with daily responsibilities.

Long-term rehab lasts at least 90 days, allowing more time for treatment. This extra time increases the success rate of the treatment program, but long-term rehabs are unlikely to be covered by health insurance. That means that most people will have to pay for long-term rehab out of their own pockets, which is usually impractical.

Prescription Drug Use in Utah

The drugs of greatest concern in Utah are primarily prescription drugs. The abuse of prescription drugs is generally increasing throughout the country for a variety of factors, largely because people tend to assume they’re safe since they’re prescribed by doctors. However, Utahns have an additional incentive to prefer prescription drugs since the Word of Wisdom doesn’t restrict their use.

This factor is one of the reasons that Utah ranks eighth in the country for deaths caused by an overdose of prescription drugs, according to Utah’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. The number of deaths in Utah due to prescription drugs dipped in 2008 but has grown by 400 percent over the decade since then.

Utah Drug Use By Numbers

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides statistics on drug use that are specific to Utah. However, drug use in Utah is more likely to be under-reported in Utah than other states due to its prohibition by the LDS church.

About 2,670 Utahns were diagnosed with an illicit drug use disorder in 2016, of which 2,410 failed to receive treatment. Illicit drugs include illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. An estimated 4,850 Utahns needed but did not receive treatment for alcohol use disorder, with about 4,620 of those being diagnosed. About 6,350 Utahns were diagnosed with substance use disorder, which includes illicit drugs, alcohol, and painkillers. Approximately 5,910 of these failed to receive treatment for their disorder.

About 8,130 Utahns between the ages of 12 and 20 admitted to binge drinking within the past month in 2016. Binge alcohol use is defined as the consumption of at least five alcoholic drinks for males and four drinks for females within two hours. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

Utah Drug Laws

Section 58-37 of the Utah Criminal Code (UCC) provides the drug laws for Utah, which includes the Utah Controlled Substances Act (UCC 58-37-8). This act classifies drugs into five categories according to their potential for abuse, with Schedule I drugs being the most dangerous. A first offense for possession of a Schedule I or II drug or more than an ounce of marijuana is generally a third-degree felony in Utah, which carries a maximum sentence of five years and a fine of $5,000. A second offense and other factors can elevate a charge of drug possession to a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years and a fine of $10,000.

Utah Drug And Alcohol Government Treatment Services

The Department of Human Services (DHS) administers state-sponsored services for substance use disorders in Utah. These services begin with a screening and assessment, which the local treatment providers perform independently. Providers in medical settings use the Screening, Brief Interventions, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) approach for this process. Utah provides a complete spectrum of services for substance use disorders, including prevention, treatment and recovery support. The cost of treatment services are based on a sliding scale, meaning the cost depends on your income.

State-sponsored treatment programs in Utah employ a number of evidence-based practices to meet the client’s needs, including personalized treatment by a trusted provider. These treatments also emphasize the individual’s safety with medication-assisted recovery performed under clinical supervision. Collaboration and empowerment are additional components of treatment programs administered by the DHS.

Signs of Abuse

The criteria for drug use disorders are based on general drug-related behavior rather than the consumption of a specific quantity of the drug. For example, these behaviors include the continued use of drugs despite recognizing that it poses a clear physical or psychological problem. The use of drugs in greater amounts or for a longer time than intended is also a sign of drug abuse. Additional signs include a decreased interest in other activities due to drug use.

People with a substance use disorder may also dedicate a large portion of their time to obtaining the drug. A person who requires a higher dosage over time to achieve the desired effect may also have a substance use disorder. Additional signs include a persistent desire to reduce drug use and the onset of withdrawal symptoms after ceasing drug use.


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