Montana like so many places across America, is struggling with substance misuse and its consequences.

Substance misuse includes the use of alcohol, illegal drugs, and/or prescribed medications in ways that produce harm to ourselves and those around us.

Substance misuse can deteriorate the quality of our health, educational, and social systems, and they are debilitating and killing us — particularly our young through alcohol-related car crashes, drug related violence and medication overdoses.

Recent data from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Office of Epidemiology and Scientific Support included key points on opioid, meth, alcohol and heroin use Montana.

• From 2015 to 2017, 345 Montanans died from a drug overdose. Eighty-six of these drug overdose deaths (25 percent) were due to opioids.

• The number of deaths associated with methamphetamine overdose in Montana has increased dramatically in recent years, from an average of eigth deaths per year between 2012-2014, to an average of 24 deaths per year between 2015-2017.

• From 2012-2016, on average, 475 Montanans died each year due to excessive alcohol use. Over two-thirds (67 percent) of these deaths occurred among Montanans aged 20 to 64 years.

• $314,000 were charged by Montana hospitals for heroin-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits in 2017.

Here in Gallatin County, there are ongoing efforts by Bozeman Elks Lodge, Community Coalition On Drug Awareness, Gallatin County DUI Task Force, Greater Gallatin United Way, Montana State University Substance Abuse Free Environment Coalition, Missouri River Drug Task Force, and Alcohol & Drug Services of Gallatin County to address the broad individual, environmental and societal factors that influence substance misuse and its consequences, to improve the health, safety and well-being of our communities.

To learn more about prevention, enforcement, and treatment in Southwest Montana, visit c-coda.org.

Rick Gale

Bozeman