GREAT FALLS - In Beth Morrison's office at Alliance For Youth in Great Falls is a stack of handouts with information about fentanyl.
"These are kind of going to be the handouts," Morrison said.
Morrison is a substance abuse prevention specialist with Alliance For Youth and a co-chair of the Cascade County Substance Abuse Prevention Alliance.
Thanks in part to grant money from Montana State University Extension, the two organizations, along with The Sober Life in Great Falls, are hosting a meeting to try to educate people about fentanyl.
The meeting — which is free and open to the public — will take place at 7 p.m. on March 14 at the Great Falls Public Library.
"People need to know it's here, it's getting laced into everything. You can stumble upon it inadvertently, accidentally," said Morrison.
"We're going to give you information on fentanyl, you're going to have a chance to talk to law enforcement and emergency responders regarding what's going on. But we're also going to give you some takeaways, some things you can actually do, and one of them is you need to share this information with your own pockets of influence," Morrison explained.
Last month, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen announced there has been a nearly 11,000% increase in fentanyl seizures by anti-drug task forces in Montana since 2019 and triple the amount of fentanyl was seized in 2022 compared to 2021.
"In my opinion, I think it's worse than it's made out to be."
That was the response from a Great Falls Police Department drug detective, who we can't identify, when asked if he thinks the fentanyl crisis is as bad as it's made out to be.
"We've encountered it both in powder and in pill form. One case in particular I can speak to, an individual had enough fentanyl to kill the city of Fort Benton," the detective said. "Last year, I would say we've seized somewhere between 17,000 and 20,000 fentanyl pills."
Making the problem worse is the unknown of the pills.
"When they're being pressed on a pill press down in Mexico, they're not doing it in a lab. They're not doing it scientifically. So you're getting an unknown amount of fentanyl in every single pill," said the detective.
"Sadly, I think we're just at a point right now where you don't have a chance to just make one mistake or stumble upon something once. Once is all it usually takes," said Morrison.