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Opioid abuse conference held in Helena

Posted at 4:00 PM, Oct 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 14:11:09-04

HELENA — A conference was held at the Capitol in Helena on Wednesday to address the overall progress being made in the fight against opioid abuse in Montana.

A new report released by Governor Steve Bullock shows a decrease in rates as well as a decrease in the average daily dose of opioids since 2012.

"It was the invisible epidemic that no one was confronting," Governor Bullock said at the conference.

Gov. Bullock -- along with several other state health officials -- presented key findings from a recent report on the fight against the opioid epidemic in Montana.

According to the report, from 2012 to 2017, there was an overall 4% decrease in opioid prescriptions, and the average daily does of opioids decreased by 23%.

Dr. Gregg Holzman, the State Medical Officer with DPHHS, says the numbers are encouraging, but it's still not enough.

"Even though the numbers are lower in the state of Montana, they are still preventable deaths, and each preventable death is one too many," Dr. Holzman said.

Dr. Holzmann says that we as a state need to have two goals: minimize or prevent unnecessary opioid prescriptions, and ensure opioids are not being used by someone without a prescription.

If have a legal opioid prescription, there are resources available to you that will help you prevent an accidental overdose.

Doctor William Gallea, a physician from Central Montana Medical Center, says Montana has a standing order for a medication called Naloxone.

"Naloxone has become much more important as one of the life saving parts as a response to that situation because it rapidly reverses the affects of an opiod overdose," Dr. Gallea said.

Because of the standing order for Naloxone, which was signed into law by Governor Bullock in 2017, anyone can get the opioid reversal medication from their pharmacy without a prescription.

"We want Naloxone carried by the people who are on these high doses, carried by the addicts, carried by their families and friends as well as anyone who would respond first to an emergency like that," Dr. Gallea said.

State health officials would also like to remind everyone how important it is to properly dispose of any unused opioid medication. There are now over 165 medication drop boxes in Montana. You can find the nearest drop box locaiton to you by visiting the attorney general website.