Narcan available at CCHD for opioid overdoses

The national opioid crisis is being exacerbated by the use of fentanyl and there have been multiple doses in Montana in recent weeks, according to the Cascade County City-County Health Department.

Fentanyl is several orders of magnitude stronger than heroin and is commonly mixed with methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine or benzodiazepine. Users are often unaware that they are taking fentanyl and can easily consume an extremely dangerous dosage, according to CCHD.

Nalaxone, produced under the brand name Narcan and others, temporarily blocks the effects of opioids and can reverse many of the harmful effects of an opioid overdose.

Narcan is available at the CCHD facility at 115 4th St. S.

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Someone experiencing an active overdose may be treated by trained CCHD staff and Narcan may also be picked up by any person for off-site use.

“This potentially life-saving medication is available at no charge, and no one will experience any criminal or legal repercussions for seeking Narcan from CCHD,” according to CCHD.

In April, the Great Falls Police Department issued a warning about an increase of overdoses and overdoses resulting in death in the community due to fake Oxycodone pills cut with fentanyl.

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GFPD and the Russell Country Drug Task Force said in a release that from Jan. 1 to March 31, there were 28 suspected overdoses with one resulting in death.

From April 1-5, there were five suspected overdoses including two deaths, according to GFPD.

So far, Narcan has been used at least 30 times so far this year, according to GFPD. Narcan is a medicine that can reverse an opioid overdose in an emergency.

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“These incidents are ones that are known to law enforcement and there are likely several other overdoses and Narcan uses that have gone unreported,” according to GFPD.

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Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, according to GFPD and a lethal dose is two milligrams, equivalent to a few grains of salt.

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Signs of an opioid overdose include unconsciousness or unresponsive, slowed or stopped breathing, snoring or gurgling sounds, cold or clammy skin, and discolored lips or fingernails, according to GFPD.

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“If you encounter someone you suspect has overdosed, call 911 immediately, start CPR if needed, give Narcan if you have it, and once the person is breathing again, place them in the recovery position (on their side),” according to GFPD.

To assist in combating the distribution of fake Oxycodone pills or other illegal narcotics, contact the Russell Country Drug Task Force by calling 406-452-5818. Tips may also be sent by private message to the GFPD Facebook page.

Anonymous tips can be provided through the P3 Tip app, or by logging on to P3TIPS.COM. If you allow push notifications on your phone when submitting a tip, an investigator will be able to contact you through the app directly. Your phone number is not made available to the investigator, which allows you to remain anonymous, according to GFPD.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration partners with the local drug task force and also has a tip line.

The Montana Highway Patrol said this week that it found large amounts of illegal drugs in 2021 and in the case of fentanyl, they’ve already surpassed last year’s quantity.

Troopers found nearly 3,800 fentanyl tablets in 2021 and fentanyl arrests increased from one in 2020 to 17 in 2021, according to an MHP release.

From 2018 to 2020, the MHP criminal interdiction team made two fentanyl interdictions and officials said demonstrates a fast growth of the threat.

Through March 15, 2022, troopers have already seized 12,079 fentanyl pills – more than three times the total for all of 2021.

The quantity of methamphetamine seized so far this year is also on track to surpass 2021, according to MHP.

While seizing 49.1 pounds of the drug, troopers made 163 felony arrests for meth last year, an increase of 20 percent over 2020. Through the first 10 weeks of this year, troopers had seized taken two-thirds of that total, or 33.3 pounds.

Troopers seized two pounds of heroin resulting in 19 felony arrests and 4.5 pounds of cocaine resulting in six felony arrests in 2021, according to MHP.

To help with drug interdiction efforts after the legalization of recreational marijuana, MHP is replacing two drug detecting canines with the help of a state grant program.