Numbers from the Montana Department of Justice show just how much fentanyl use and distribution has exploded in Flathead County in the past year.
Kalispell Police Chief Doug Overman said fentanyl has now surpassed heroin as the opiate of choice in Flathead County.
With Fentanyl overdoses on the rise in Flathead County, public health officials are training family, friends, and neighbors how to properly use Narcan to save a life.
“Using Narcan can reverse, hopefully reverse an opioid overdose and give you enough time for when you call 911 for emergency medical responders to show up and then help get them the proper care that they need,” said Flathead Family planning Program Manager Mandie Fleming.
Flathead Family planning recently hosted a Narcan Training session for community members.
Fleming said the county is trying to be proactive in highlighting how important of a tool Narcan can be.
“It’s so easy, it’s so easy to use and so we want to make sure that the community is aware that this is something that they can carry on them and they can use if needed, and how easy it is to use and that anyone can really respond to an overdose if they have this tool,” added Fleming.
When used properly, Narcan rapidly blocks the effects of opiates on the brain, restoring breathing during an overdose.
Fleming said the number of people picking up Narcan from the health department has increased in recent months.
“People from all backgrounds come and pick them up, so it might be a teacher, you know a neighbor and then we also run a syringe exchange program, so folks using our syringe exchange program, we’re making sure that they’re leaving our office with Narcan as well,” said Fleming.
Kalispell Police Chief Doug Overman said all Kalispell officers are now trained and carry Narcan.
He said it’s just a band-aid solution to a bigger problem troubling Flathead County.
“You know addiction is a challenging thing and we’re just beginning to understand it more and more and we need to have a serious conversation as a community about the impacts of addiction, and how we address it and how we as partners between government and private industry and chemical dependency and mental health and law enforcement and corrections, how we all come together to try to make a difference,” said Chief Overman.
If you are looking for Narcan in Flathead County, there are a few options in Kalispell.
You can visit Oxytocin at 1645 US 93 South or Flathead Syringe Exchange on 1035 1st Avenue.
Both places offer resources, education, and training about substance abuse.
Along with Narcan, the health department also provides take-home Fentanyl testing strips free of charge.