MISSOULA – Montana's top law enforcement official says deaths caused by fentanyl have jumped 1100% since 2017 in the Treasure State.
Now, one nonprofit is working with the Montana Attorney General's Office to prevent even more by giving schools and youth organizations opioid reversal kits.
The effects of fentanyl are far-reaching, and for Voices for Awareness Facing Fentanyl director Andrea Thomas, it’s personal. “I lost my daughter to fentanyl in 2018."
Thomas wants to ensure other parents don't lose their children to the drug.
“We need to make the conversation available to youth, we’ve got to reach out to them. Let them know what we know about illicit fentanyl, see what they know, and hopefully stop them and prevent another family from losing someone,” Thompson explained.
The non-profit Voices for Awareness Facing Fentanyl and the Montana Attorney General's Office are working together to distribute opioid reversal kits.
“The outreach is fantastic. I think the kits they're coming up with — I think are just a fantastic idea," noted Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen.
The kits — which contain naloxone, the nasal spray that helps reverse an opioid overdose — will be released next month.
The kits also include training on how to use the nasal spray, plus education for children and adults to learn about the consequences and prevalence of fentanyl.
Mike Fiore, a recovery inspirational speaker, spoke of his own history of addiction.
He called the fentanyl problem a plague that is taking more children's lives than most people know.
“These kids every school we go to we ask them one; 'do you know fentanyl?' All their hands are up. And then we ask them, 'have you lost anyone to fentanyl?' And all those hands are staying up,” Fiore said.
Knudsen has given special attention to the fentanyl crisis in Montana.
"It’s staggering to me now to see how in just two short years, really, fentanyl has just skyrocketed in Montana,” Knudsen observed.
The Montana Attorney General’s office had a similar presentation on the Flathead Reservation earlier this week.