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Dangers of fentanyl discussed at Alliance For Youth forum

Posted at 10:12 PM, Apr 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 00:14:15-04

GREAT FALLS — Alliance For Youth in Great Falls a forum on Tuesday called “Fentanyl - the Death of a Community."

The seminar informed the public about what fentanyl is, its dangers, and what we as as a community can do to help stop the crisis.

“It's bad. It's the worst it's ever been,” said Brandon Holzer, Deputy for the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. “And it's only going to get worse unless we take an initiative and have some type of conversation about it.”

Deputy Holzer taught the community about the law enforcement side of illicit drug usage and sales, and Maggie Anderson, the project manager for Lincoln County Unite for Youth, spoke on how we can work together to prevent the issues from getting even worse.

“The drug scene itself has changed so much. And so you never know where fentanyl is going to be,” Anderson said, “And the whole 'One Pill Can Kill' idea, which is traditionally looked at as a scare tactic, but it really is a reality now.”

One of the main reasons fentanyl is so dangerous is that it is incredibly strong, so a tiny dose can cause an overdose. Pair that with unregulated doses, and you get the “Chocolate Chip Cookie Effect."

“So fentanyl, like any other illicit drugs, it's not mixed evenly,” said Beth Price Morrison, a substance abuse prevention specialist for Alliance For Youth, “So if you equate it to, like, making your favorite batch of chocolate chip cookies, you can mix it up…and you can still get a cookie with ten chips and a cookie with four chips…So it just gives a really good example and exercise for people to understand the inconsistency of fentanyl and how that plays into its lethalness.”

The talk explained what fentanyl is, why it is dangerous, what we can do to help, and even included a demonstration by Bear, a K9 unit who helps sniff out fentanyl. The goal is to protect the community from the dangers of this potent narcotic.

“The takeaway is it's here. You need to be aware of it,” Anderson said, “There's things you can do to educate yourselves and your own family and friends and coworkers and whatnot about the dangerousness of it.”

According to the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office and the Great Falls Police Department, fentanyl is the number one cause of overdose deaths. From January to April of this year there have already been three overdose deaths in Cascade County. In 2022, Montana had 1093 overdoses and 152 overdose deaths, most of which are believed to be opioid/fentanyl related. Cascade County had 108 overdoses and 19 overdose deaths in 2022.