HELENA – Montana political leaders, public health officials and college students all came together for one cause; to get a handle on prescription drug abuse in Montana.
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and spokespeople for Senator Tester and Daines expressed their concerns with this issue while a group of students at Carroll College presented data they gathered about the Helena community’s opioid abuse problem.
They partnered with Youth Connections and the Drug Coalition Task Force to spread awareness throughout the Helena community, conducted environment scans, and interviews to see where what the people of Helena stood on the issue.
“Within our interviews and focus groups we’ve seen that a lot of people do believe this is an issue in the community,”, said Carroll College student Meghan Durant who helped conduct this research.
She added that other Carroll students have recognized around campus there is an opioid abuse issue.
“I have had prior experience with it, with family and just going through that as a kid is rough, and getting that education out there, and letting it be known that it’s a problem and that it can be addressed head-on instead of after the issue,” said Durant.
Intermountain Clinical Director Kimberly Gardner says in her line of work opioid abuse is a serious issue with youth in Montana. “Yes, we are finding the opioid abuse and addiction is a big deal in Helena, and we certainly weren’t spared the epidemic crisis here at all,” said Gardner.
Gardner said education is great way to help people understand what substance abuse is. Gardner explained it’s a chronic relapsing brain disorder that overtakes a person when they seek drugs, rather than seek treatment to get off the drug.
“We really can’t do this alone and there’s no one right solution and there’s no one single solution, so to see everyone here pulling together is very exciting, and gives me a lot of hope for our future,” said Gardner.