Utah bill defining more opioid overdose outreach providers passes in Senate, favorably recommended in House


Maddie McCarthy


A bill defining more overdose outreach providers in an effort to fight the nationwide opioid crisis passed in the Senate, and was favorably recommended by the House Health and Human Services Committee on Monday.

Senate Bill 130, sponsored by Sen. Jen Plumb (D-Salt Lake County), would amend previous legislation passed in 2016. The original legislation was sponsored by SB 130’s floor sponsor, Rep. Carol S. Moss (D-Salt Lake County), and by former Republican Sen. Brian E. Shiozawa, who represented Salt Lake County from 2013 to 2017. 

Stay one step ahead. Join our email list for the latest news.


Their bill defined and authorized overdose outreach providers to administer a drug like naloxone to someone experiencing an opioid overdose without civil liability. When administered in a timely manner, naloxone temporarily blocks and reverses the effect of opioids, which gives overdose victims time to receive medical care so they do not die from the drug.

The Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported that in 2022, 541 people died from a drug overdose. Seventy-four percent of those deaths involved opioids.

If passed, SB 130 would identify three more types of professionals as overdose outreach providers who can furnish naloxone and ultimately be a resource to help prevent more opioid overdose deaths.

“What I wanted to do with this amendment bill was basically to add three crucial folks, and it’s our social workers, it’s our SUDCs, which stands for substance use disorder counselors, and it’s our CPSSs—that’s our certified peer support specialists,” Plumb said during a legislative hearing at the end of January.

“We found, when we first started getting naloxone into people’s hands, we thought it would be doctors and pharmacies where everyone would want to go. And yet, it wasn’t. It was the people that folks trusted. So it was sometimes their family members, it was sometimes their recovery support folks, [and] sometimes it was people who they just had that connection and that trust with that we would’ve never thought of, and most of them weren’t doctors or pharmacists.”

— Plumb

Plumb, who is also a pediatric emergency physician and the founder and medical director of Utah Naloxone, said that of the 10,200 naloxone reversals that have so far been reported to her organization, around 92 percent of the naloxone administrators have been non-medical, non-first responder-type people.

The way the current law is written, the three professions defined in the amendment could realistically already furnish naloxone. 

“The way this [the current law] is written, overdose outreach provider means ‘an individual,’” Plumb said. “So pretty much any individual in the state of Utah actually can do this.”

However, over the last few years, she and DHHS have received numerous phone calls from people saying their employer will not allow them to furnish naloxone kits. She explained that some agencies and organizations do not feel comfortable allowing these crucial recovery space workers—social workers, SUDCs, and CPSSs—to do so unless their professions are defined clearly in the law. 

This bill, Plumb said, adds those professions so their employers feel comfortable with providing them with and training them on using naloxone kits in the workplace.

Riley Drage, a CPSS who works at Utah Naloxone, spoke in favor of this amendment.

“I know that there are some businesses or places that work with people that are in active addiction and they are not allowing any of the people that work there to administer or be educated on naloxone,” Drage said. 

“If they see something, they’re going to have to call somebody else while they’re at work to administer naloxone to somebody. So putting [social workers, SUDCs, and CPSSs] into the bill would potentially just save lots and lots more lives.”

Leave a Comment