GALLATIN COUNTY — Governor Greg Gianforte says Montana is facing a fentanyl crisis. He and Montana Attorney General Austin Knudson as well as Gallatin County Sheriff Dan Springer hosted a news conference on Friday, August 19, 2022, to address the impact the illegal drug is having in the state.
Fentanyl is an opioid pain drug that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is medically approved for managing severe and chronic pain. But most cases of fentanyl deaths have been linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Fentanyl is so potent and potentially lethal that first responders are cautioned to wear gloves to avoid touching the drug.
Gianforte says that fentanyl is becoming more common in Montana - and also deadlier: “It has taken the lives of 34 Montanans through May of this year."
Sheriff Springer says that numbers in Gallatin County have increased: “We’re seeing a dramatic increase in fentanyl, in the last couple of years our seizure numbers have gone way up."
According to the Montana Attorney General’s office, about 20 pounds of fentanyl have been seized across the state in 2022, which is up from just five pounds in 2021.
“What we’re learning is that we are more of a distribution location, stuff is coming in through the United States Postal Service,” says Springer.
Springer says as he looks statewide, Gallatin County has not seen the impact to the extent other counties across the state have.
“We have not seen the overdose deaths here in Gallatin County as similar to the ones in other counties,” says Springer.
Springer says that the county is taking an approach in two ways, by focusing on incarceration and rehab to tackle the issue in the county.
“As far as rehabilitation goes, rehabilitation is a part of that pronged approach. Issues will ultimately get solved at the local level based upon local communities banding together and figuring out solutions,” says Springer.
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