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MT healthcare leaders discuss efforts to combat opioid use

Posted at 9:43 AM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 11:43:12-04

HELENA – Elected leaders and healthcare officials came together on Monday to discuss Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).

Hosted by the Montana Primary Care Association, the community round table included discussion on the rise of opioid use and how care providers have been reacting.

State Medical Officer Doctor Greg Holzman says education opportunities like these are important for addressing the stigma that comes with substance abuse.

“There’s a lot of history behind people of what they might be dealing with; underlying depression, anxiety, trauma,” explained Holzman. “We need to understand that these are people– good people with a disorder and we need to help them through that process.”

According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), in the state, there have been more than 700 deaths from prescription opioid overdose.

Another key topic covered was the use of medication to assist with the treatment of OUD.

Jason McNees, licensed behavioral health peer support specialist with the Helena Indian Alliance Leo Pocha Clinic, supports the use of medication to help those facing OUD.

McNees hopes the event helps remove some of the misconceptions with using MAT.

“Medication-Assisted Treatment isn’t only be used for individuals suffering from OUD, it’s also being used for individuals that suffer from chronic pain and have maybe been using opioids long term,” said McNees.

Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that in the state for every 100 Montanans, there are 83 painkiller prescriptions written annually.

Holzman says every community partner plays a role in treating any substance abuse, and so far Montana has seen success with OUD.

“Because of the partnerships and the small community mentality of the state, the amount that I’ve seen change over the last four years in this area has been dramatic,” said Holzman.

More resources on opioid uses and prevention can be found here.

-John Riley reporting for MTN News