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Montanans encouraged to carry Narcan as fentanyl overdose deaths surge

Posted at 8:59 AM, Sep 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-07 10:59:01-04

BILLINGS - Drug overdoses continue to rise in Montana, and now residents are being asked to become life savers with the use of Narcan.

Montana has experienced a 116% increase in fentanyl-related deaths from 2019 to 2020.

“Fentanyl, opioids overdose is a huge, huge, problem,” said Jace Dyckman.

Dyckman — who works at RiverStone Health — sees the impacts of drug addiction firsthand.

“The population I see come from a lot of trauma and a lot of situations where they're just not able to handle daily life skills, so they turn to substances,” he said.

But as we know, addiction can be deadly, especially since the arrival of fentanyl in Montana.
“We're trying to see how we can help our populations that are struggling,” Dyckman said.

And he says it's easy with the use of what he calls a “magic bullet.”

Narcan rapidly blocks the effects of opiates on the brain, restoring breathing.

Just one spray into the nostrils can wake someone from an overdose in seconds.

“It really is the magic bullet for someone that's overdosed. If they get dosed with Narcan, they come out of it,” he said.

Dyckman recently demonstrated how to use Narcan, placing the tool in step with CPR.

But he says you don’t have to know CPR in order to use it, so he’s hoping everyone will start carrying it around just like they would with an Epi-pen or inhaler.

He says addiction is hard to break and many times those struggling either aren’t aware of the risk or they can’t rise above their addiction to curb it.

“That's the struggle of addiction,” he said. “It makes people feel good enough that they want to keep doing it, regardless of the risk.”

RiverStone Health has been giving out roughly 500 doses of Narcan every three months.

Dyckman also says he gives out five to six doses every week, sometimes to those who’ve helped save a life with Narcan and need more.

“A lot of times (fentanyl is) cut into screen heroin, it's cut into the marijuana. Some people aren't familiar with that. They don't know what dose they're taking and there's a potential there to overdose,” Dyckman said.

He says anyone who wants to learn more or carry Narcan can come to talk to him. It's also available at the RiverStone Pharmacy.

According to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) website, Narcan is available at a variety of places around Billings.

So now in addition to area police officers, EMTs, and firefighters carrying Narcan, the average citizen is also encouraged to do so.

It’s a critical ask in a critical time, says Dyckman.