Fentanyl deaths continue to spike precipitously in the state, with the Riverstone Health in Billings reporting that 8 people have overdosed and died from the dangerous drug between May 22 and June 1st, making it the deadlines week on record and continuing to set a blistering pace that is expected to to be several magnitudes higher than previous years. The victims were between the ages of 24 and 60. According to the DEA website:
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients…Because of its powerful opioid properties, Fentanyl is also diverted for abuse.
Because is it so powerful, even a small amount can kill you. Last year, Montana’s Department of Justice’s State Crime Lab reported 41 fentanyl-related deaths in all 2020, which was double the 19 reported in 2019. Though final numbers have not been released for 2021, estimates place the number of deaths around 165, nearly 4 times the amounts the previous year.
According to the Montana Highway Patrol, they intercepted more fentanyl in the first two and a half months of 2022 than all last year. By Mid-march, they already seized 12,079 fentanyl pills, compared to 3800 for all of 2021.
Speaking of the growing scourge, Attorney General Knudsen said last year:
but we know that counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl are manufactured overseas and smuggled across the border before coming to Montana. The federal government must secure the border and stop the flow of drugs into our country..Even a small amount of fentanyl is enough to be fatal. No one should take pills that were not prescribed to them and parents need to talk to their kids about the dangers of ingesting unknown substances.”