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Fentanyl remains a growing problem for law enforcement and support services in Gallatin County

Law enforcement say the fentanyl crisis in Gallatin County is just getting worse
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Posted at 6:20 PM, Feb 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-23 10:52:08-05

Gallatin County is no stranger to the fentanyl crisis. Law enforcement shares what they've been experiencing with overdoses and the amount of pills they have seized.

Captain Eric Paulson with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office says, “When we looked at the the number of pills that were actually seized in 2020 to 2021 combined was under 100, and in 2022, last year, we had over 12,000 seized here in Gallatin County.”

Captain Paulson says fentanyl overdoses are on the rise because of how cheap and easy the drug is to ingest.

“In 2021, we had a total of four overdose deaths. None of them were related to fentanyl. 2022, we had a total of nine overdose deaths in the county, and four of those were related to fentanyl. In 2023, we've had a total of four narcotic-related overdoses,” says Paulson.

Bozeman Police Department Patrol Captain Joe Swanson says they are seeing about an overdose a week. One as recently as last week at a local business.

“The officers responded immediately," says Swanson, "CPR was being administered. Narcan was delivered to this person, and by the time medical and fire services arrived, they took over. The person survived.”

Now, local officers and deputies all carry Narcan.

“Every one of our sworn staff has been issued Narcan," says Swanson. "The officers carry this with them as a nasal spray. That kind of reverses the effects of what fentanyl has on your body. Gives you a better chance of surviving.”

Narcan is not the only resource to save lives from a deadly drug like fentanyl. Ideal Option of Bozeman is an addiction treatment center that is also seeing the effects of increased fentanyl use and is doing its best to help.

“For fentanyl use in the Bozeman clinic, we are seeing about 100 patients a week,” says Nurse Practitioner Brooke Hewitt of Ideal Option.

Hewitt says Ideal Option can offer other options to Narcan.

“We have different initiation methods that will prevent them from going into severe withdrawals, which prevent a lot of people from coming in to get help," says Hewitt. "A lot of times we put them on a medication called Buprenorphine, and it's a partial opiate compared to fentanyl, which is a full opiate.”

In an emergency, Captain Swanson urges community members to take action.

“We cannot stress enough, don't delay in calling 911 if you or someone else you suspect is having an overdose, the quicker we can respond, the better chance of the person has of surviving,” says Swanson.