BILLINGS — If you total up cases of substance abuse, drug crimes, and deaths - Montana ranks 18th for the states most affected by the national drug epidemic.
A new study using national data shows the epidemic contributes to a number of additional problems including overdoses and incarceration.
The data also shows many people relapse and overdose after leaving prison but an effort is now moving forward to prevent these relapses and deaths in the form of pre-release counseling.
MTN News spoke with a physician's assistant Ari Greenburg to find out what needs to be done to help slow this problem. He said abstinence alone does not work, unless paired with counseling or drug management.
"Addiction is not prejudiced, it affects people of all races, and all ages. So once we get them, and they're willing to accept treatment, we start working with certain medications to stabilize and provide them counseling in order to help them get back on their feet, and moving forward to what their goals are," said Greenburg.
Greenberg also stressed the importance of removing the the stigma associated with addiction, and seeking help.