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Feds helping Utah tackle drug addiction

A new program just launched in Utah to tackle prescription drug addiction head-on through all angles.

DEA agent in charge Brian Besser says the crisis is overwhelming.

“Every month 30 Utahns die from drug overdoses,” he said. “Every 25 minutes in our nation, a baby is born addicted to drugs.”

He announced the DEA360 program starting in Utah Wednesday. It’s in several cities across the nation, but this is the first statewide effort.

This is bringing together law enforcement, lawmakers, prosecutors, pharmacists, physicians, recovery centers and more.

A public relations campaign includes billboards, community meetings, and the new website

“We have to get deeper, we have to reach our kids, we have to reach our communities, we have to talk about things that are uncomfortable,” said House Speaker Greg Hughes. “That’s what this holistic approach is going to do.”

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes was also at the news conference, and he said that while it is a tough subject, he feels reason to hope and reason to smile with these new partnerships. Reyes is part of the Utah Opioid Task Force.

“Instead of a think tank, we wanted a do-tank. The very first thing we did is apply for a DEA360 grant,” said Reyes.

Besser says it’s time to peel back the shame.

“Too many Utahns are dying at home. And no one knows anything about it,” said Besser.