More than 100 people die every year from drug overdose in Montana. In addition to this, almost 22,000 hospital or ER visits annually are attributable to alcohol and drug use. The impacts of substance use span every generation and cut across socioeconomic lines, from children in the state's foster care system to seniors prescribed opioids for chronic pain.
In a rural state like Montana, access to robust, evidence-based systems to prevent, treat and manage substance use disorders are limited. And yet, with tens of thousands of individuals in the state impacted by this issue, the state needs to work collectively to develop solutions for our communities.
Opioid use is the primary driver of drug overdose deaths in the state of Montana. Forty-four percent of all drug overdose deaths are attributable to opioids. Montana has made progress in recent years addressing prescription opioid misuse and abuse and reducing overdose deaths.
This is even though much more can be done to ensure that opioids are prescribed, taken and disposed of safely, and that patients being transitioned off of high dose prescription opiates do not transition to illicit narcotics such as heroin.
The number of Montana adults reporting non-medical use of pain relievers in the last year is decreasing. The rate of opioid overdose deaths in Montana peaked in 2008 and 2009 and has decreased significantly since then, bucking national trends. Montana opioid overdose rate was 4.2 per 100,000 residents in 2014 and 2015.
Prescription drug abuse contributed to the death of more than 300 Montanans from 2011-2013, making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined (per the Office of Epidemiology and Scientific Support, Public Health and Safety Division, MT DPHHS, 2016.)
Montana kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country, while 70% of abusers get their drugs from family members. Almost 9.6 percent of Montana teens aged 12 to 17 have reported abusing prescription pain relievers. That is the third-highest rate for teens in the country (per the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.)
More than 18 percent of Montana's middle school and high school students report abusing prescription drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin. By the time they reach the twelfth-grade, almost 23 percent have abused these drugs.
Nearly 78 percent of kids have had conversations with their parents about the dangers of using beer and marijuana. Only 24 percent have had those conversations about prescription drugs.
In 2017, Montana providers wrote 61.1 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons. The average U.S. rate in the same year was 58.7 prescriptions per 100 persons (per the CDC). The same year, there were more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in the US. This was an age-adjusted rate of 21.7 per 100,000 persons.
Among these, 47,600 involved opioids. The sharpest increase occurred among deaths involving Fentanyl and Fentanyl analogs (other synthetic narcotics) with more than 28,400 overdose deaths in 2017.
The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths has not significantly changed in Montana over the last several years. In 2017, there were 11.7 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 persons.
While the majority of drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid, overdose deaths involving opioids are not included for the state because the data reported did not meet inclusion criteria.
NAS or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) may occur when a pregnant woman uses drugs such as opioids during pregnancy. A recent national study revealed a fivefold increase in the incidence of NAS/NOWS between 2004 and 2014, from 1.5 cases per 1,000 hospital births to 8.0 cases per 1,000 hospital births.
The most recent data on the rate of babies born with NAS/NOWS in Montana is from 2014 and is based on state inpatient databases. The rate of Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in Montana newborns increased from 0.8 per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 9.0 per 1,000 (95% confidence interval 7.3% - 10.9%) in 2013, a tenfold increase according to the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in Montana Newborns 2000-2013.
From 2012 to 2014, the rate of NAS/NOWS increased 78 percent from 4.4 cases per 1,000 hospital births to 7.8 cases per 1,000 hospital births (per the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project).
Of the new HIV cases in 2016, 17 occurred in Montana. Among males, 18.8 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to male-to-male contact and opioid and prescription opioid abuse. There were no new cases of HIV attributed to opioid abuse among women.
In 2015, an estimated 574 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in Montana—a rate of 66 cases per 100,000 persons. Of those, 26.0 percent of cases among males were attributed to opioid abuse or male-to-male contact and opioid abuse. Among females, 34.1 percent were living with HIV attributed to opioid and prescription opioid abuse.
There were approximately 20 new cases of acute HCV (1.9 per 100,000 persons) reported in Montana in 2016 (per the CDC).In Montana, there are an estimated 36,800 persons living with Hepatitis C (2013-2016 annual average), a rate of 900 cases per 100,000 persons.
The good news is that there are numerous centers of treatment and rehab available in Montana. There are many types of treatment centers such as long term addiction treatment facilities, short term drug abuse treatment, outpatient detoxification programs, outpatient substance abuse treatment services, inpatient drug abuse treatment and others.
There is a wide range of drug and alcohol rehab facilities available. They include individual psychotherapy, dialectical behavior therapy, couple/family therapy, trauma therapy, trauma-related counseling, cognitive/behavior therapy and others, to name a few. If you need rehab in Montana, all you need to do is place a call to any of the available rehab centers.
If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is imperative that you look for professional help as soon as you possibly can. However, you might not know where to start or the options that are open to you. Similarly, you may have little to no idea about the differences between the different treatment facilities and the programs they have in store for their patients.
Do you need help finding the right drug or alcohol rehab facility in your area?
Fill out the form below or call 1-866-726-3478 to get the help you need.