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State Crime Lab report says Montana drug use at “crisis” levels

Posted at 11:53 AM, Jul 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-19 15:26:09-04

MISSOULA – Montana Attorney General Tim Fox says the state is in the midst of a substance abuse crisis with a new report reflecting what he calls “astronomical” increases in methamphetamine and heroin offenses over the last several years.

The numbers show that there has been a drastic increase in drug use — particularly when it comes to methamphetamine and heroin.

The Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula processes toxicology testing for all sorts of crimes. The results come from crimes where there is suspected drug use or another reason for testing such as postmortem tests, DUI’s, and controlled substance cases.

The Montana Department of Justice Forensic Division Annual report details the big changes that have happened in Montana from 2011 to 2017. For example. meth use jumped 375% in postmortem cases and 324% in DUI cases. Additionally, a 415% spike in meth use was found and most significantly a 1,234% increase in heroin use was seen in controlled substance cases

“These are all kind of different subsets of the population within Montana. They’re all kind of showing the same thing — this significant and long-term rise in methamphetamine over the years,” said Montana Department of Justice Forensic Science Administrator Scott Larson said.

He added that heroin began showing up in larger numbers in the past few years as opioid painkillers became more difficult to get a prescription for.

Fox called the situation in Montana a crisis adding that the capacity of Montana’s court system and jails — as well as the Montana State Crime Lab — is under stress because of these numbers.

The Montana Attorney General’s Office says they are combating these rising amounts of drug activity with their Aid Montana initiative.

-Augusta McDonnell reporting for MTN