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Fentanyl use on the rise in Flathead County

Flathead Fentanyl
Posted at 4:20 PM, Oct 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-19 10:45:16-04

KALISPELL — Last week we brought you the news of a fentanyl drug bust in Kalispell that resulted in 12,000 pills of fentanyl being seized.

Law enforcement in Flathead County say fentanyl distribution and use has exploded in the last year - and numbers from the department of justice prove it.

In 2020, 11 drugs sampled in Flathead County tested positive for fentanyl, in 2021 that number increased to 23, through September of this year that number has increased exponentially to 146 samples testing positive, according to the Montana Department of Justice.

Flathead Fentanyl graphic

Kalispell Police Chief Doug Overman said fentanyl has now surpassed heroin as the opiate of choice in Flathead County.

“We saw heroin kind of come into our market the last few years, it was never the overwhelming number, but fentanyl has really replaced heroin as the drug of choice for opiate users and has exponentially increased from there,” said Overman.

He said his officers have trained with first responders, including the Kalispell Fire Department on the proper way to use Narcan, which rapidly blocks the effects of opiates on the brain, restoring breathing during an overdose.

Chief Overman said all of his officers now carry Narcan in their patrol cars.

“And Chief Pierce talked to us recently and said hey you guys need to be carrying this, it just makes sense with what we’re seeing in the community, often times we’re able to get there before they get a chance to respond and it becomes incumbent on us to use this tool and we have in recent months, you know we’ve only used these just a few months, had four documented saves,” said Overman.

If you are looking for Narcan in Flathead County, there are a few options in Kalispell.

You can visit Oxytocin at 1645 US 93 South or Flathead Syringe Exchange on 1035 1st Avenue.

Both places offer resources, education, and training about substance abuse.