MISSOULA - Wednesday marked International Overdose Awareness Day, a time to remember those who have died from a drug overdose.
Approximately 1,500 Montanans died between 2009 and 2020. Meanwhile, Missoula County saw a 77% increase in fatal overdoses in 2020.
MTN News stopped by a drug overdose training session held on Wednesday that was aimed at reducing the risk of an overdose and saving lives.
Nurse practitioner Jacqueline Towarnicki stopped by the Missoula Public Library to hear about Montana's drug problems and solutions.
"A lot of people that suffer with mental health and a lot of people that suffer with abuse and have these other challenges in life, substance use is so common with it,” Towarnicki said. :If I was going to effectively treat people with other health concerns, I have to address this too."
The event provided information about addiction, substance use disorders, overdose, and the overdose treatment naloxone — better known as Narcan.
Organizers say, in the case of an overdose, this information can save lives by keeping people alive until medical professionals can take over.
Towarnicki says she's administered the Narcan nasal spray once in her career, “we know these general procedures in our life and daily routine, hoping to never actually use them."
She added that you don't have to be a medical professional to use Narcan to help with an overdose, “everyone knows where a nostril is, you put it in the nostril, and you press the plunger."
Several organizations give out free Narcan, including the Missoula City-County Health Department, the Open Aid Alliance, the Western Montana Mental Health Center and All Nations Health Center.
Narcan is also available with a prescription at most pharmacies in Montana.