Miss Murray combats opioid addiction with Drop the Drugs 5K
Miss Murray Alyse Horton and Joe Feichko cross the bridge at Murray Park during the final stretch of the Drop the Drugs 5K Fun Run and Walk. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
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Though Alyse Horton may not have known at the time, the inspiration for her platform as Miss Murray started when she was in junior high.
“One of my friends overdosed on painkillers and almost passed away,” Horton said. “Then in high school and college I watched a lot of friends battle abusive prescription drugs and even today they still battle with addiction.”
On May 13, Horton continued her battle against prescription drug abuse holding a Drop the Drugs 5K at Murray Park, a fun run and walk where people could drop off old and unused prescription drugs.
“It’s awesome,” Horton said. “You never know putting something like this on for the first time how many people you’re going to get and we had a really good turnout. I’m really pleasantly surprised.”
More than 60 people attended the event which raised over $500. All proceeds went to benefit local organizations that work with prescription drug abuse prevention.
Horton teamed up with sponsors Select Health and its parent company Intermountain Healthcare for the event. They provided water and T-shirts for the participants.
“When (Horton) told us she was doing a take back event we were like, ‘sweet! We got to partner with her. What can we do to help?’,” said Janae Letterman, committee benefit chair for Select Health.
Horton’s manifesto since she was crowned Miss Murray in September is “Use only as directed: the prevention of prescription drug abuse.” Utah has seen a 400 percent increase since 2000 in deaths from prescription drug abuse. And according to the Utah Health Department, Murray City has a higher rate than the state average.
“It is a problem that’s taking over our state, taking over our country,” Horton said.
It’s why Horton is not only holding drug take back events, she’s also provided prevention education with every fifth grader in the Murray School District. She’s worked with the Utah Health Department, IHC and Select Health. She’s also spoken with various junior high and high school health classes.
“She’s spreading that influence and making people realize, oh my doctor gave me these 30 pills but I don’t really need to keep them in my cabinet,” Letterman said. “Any kind of education like this is awesome.”
Taylor Read, who finished first in the 5K, said you might not even realize when people are experiencing problems.
“It’s something that a lot of people, just average people that live normal lives, don’t think about on everyday basis,” Read said.
Letterman said many people don’t realize what the word—opioid—means. That they are drugs that doctors give you and that they’re “as bad as heroin.”
“The biggest thing,” Horton said, “is just avoid using. If you can avoid using painkillers at all in your life, that’s ideal.”
She added that it’s just as important to dispose of the painkillers—such as Percocet—when they are no longer needed or limiting their use. When a doctor prescribes a bottle of pills for surgery or wisdom teeth removal, she said, you “really don’t need that whole bottle.”
Letterman said Tylenol and ibuprofen can oftentimes be just as effective.
Disseminating this information has kept Horton busy, but she said it is well worth it.
“It’s been amazing… just the people you get to interact with, the people you meet, the connections you make are really rewarding,” she said.
Horton is gearing up to compete for Miss Utah in June, but she’s currently working with the Utah Health Policy Project and intends to get her master’s degree in healthcare administration.
“It’s important for her and people to get out there and educate so the fact that she’s out there amongst the people is great,” Letterman said.