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Tackling Opioid Addiction in Montana

Montana isn’t facing the intense opiate or heroin epidemic that has gripped other parts of the country. But officials with the U-S Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana says the problem is here. They want to bring stakeholders together to get ahead of this issue.

The office is sponsoring a conference in Bozeman October 20, 2016 titled “From Pills to Heroin.”

Assistant U-S Attorney Jessica Betley is the organizer. Prosecutors in the office have tried cases involving medical providers over-prescribing prescription pain medication or dealers peddling these drugs. Betley notes it has not reached the epidemic levels that have hit the Northeast or Appalachia.

“And it is here,” she says. “But we have the opportunity to get in front of this problem and try to create a real proactive community approach to it and come up with solutions and put a plan in place so that we don’t get to the same extent that the rest of the country has been facing.”

She says the gathering in Bozeman will brings together medical providers, law enforcement, and others to talk about the origins of the opioid/heroin crisis and then develop a strategy to address addiction to prescription pain medications.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson sees this conference as the kick off of efforts in Montana to address this growing national epidemic.

“This isn’t the end of the road to all our outreach to the communities,” he says. “I think you’ll see more of that or the public can expect more of that.” 

Johnson says this includes future outreach efforts to other communities and to a variety of Montanans, including young people.

The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. and is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Strand Union Conference Center at Montana State University. Parking is free at the stadium lots labeled “F.”  There is pay parking near the tennis courts or by purchasing a visitor parking permit at the University Police office.