BILLINGS – Vice President Mike Pence was in Billings on Wednesday to talk with local and state law enforcement and healthcare professionals about the methamphetamine problem in Montana.
“If you’re involved in selling drugs to people here in Montana, we are going to find you and we are going to stop you,” the vice president said at a conference held at RiverStone Health.
Both the vice president and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) highlighted problems at the nation’s southern border as part of the problem.
“We are a northern border state with a southern border problem,” said Daines. “The meth that we see here in Montana is different than it was several years ago. Homegrown meth at 25% purity is what we used to see in Montana. [It] has been replaced with Mexican cartel meth with purities north of 95%.”
Pence did not just focus on the criminal side of the drug problem, but the real effect on families and communities.
“While law enforcement is essential…I want you to know that we know we can’t arrest our way out of this problem,” said Pence. “We’ve got to provide remedies and opportunities for rehabilitation.”
Pence visited with women at a Billings treatment home on Wednesday afternoon to hear their stories of rehabilitation. Willow Way is a home for women struggling with addiction to get the help they need while still caring for their children.
Three women shared their stories with the vice president, speaking of the difficulties of overcoming addiction, but the benefits of keeping their families together.
“Just got through the last phase and I have a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Kenzie, a woman in the program. “I have hope and courage again and I have learned how to be an amazing mom to my son…so I am doing really good. This place has helped me a lot.”
Earlier this year, Daines had visited in the same women, and they provided inspiration for his bill allowing more communities nationwide to develop similar styles of rehabilitation. The goal is to allow more women to stay with their children during treatment and improve outcomes for their families.
“If you are caught up in drug abuse and addiction, there is help,” said Pence. “The people of this state and this nation want to put their arms around you and help you restart your life free of drug addiction.”
-Samantha Sullivan reporting for MTN News