HELENA – The Missouri River Drug Task Force reported they have seen a significant increase in heroin use in the Helena area.
Detective Sgt. Danny David gave a presentation on Wednesday at the Helena Chamber of Commerce to inform community members about the rise in drug use they have seen.
David stressed that this not only a rising Helena problem but is also a serious statewide issue.
The task force said that with the crackdown on over-the-counter amphetamine and opiate sales, many addicts are turning to heroin with most illegal drugs now coming into Montana from Mexican Cartels.
“Pain pills, opiates, hydrocodone, Vicodin and things like that are the start of this problem for a lot of people and if people can’t get their opiate painkiller drug then they will move on to the heroine,” said David.
David added that heavy drug use is involved in the majority of theft and breaks-in the Helena community experiences.
There were 28 known heroin or prescription pill overdoses and three deaths in the Helena area in 2017. David also said they are seeing the age of drug dealers get younger and warns that drug dealers are regularly recruiting high school-aged kids.
According to the task force, they have also seen a drastic increase in “dabs” usage in high school-aged children across the state.
Dabs are a concentrated form of marijuana made by an extraction method that uses butane gas and is usually consumed by vaporization in a device similar to an e-cigarette.
To help curb drug abuse, David believes there needs to be more education and awareness in the community.
“I think more education in the schools would be helpful,” said David. “Drug use starts usually when people are younger and then get hooked on the drug and it just continues on and on.”
The task force is comprised of seven counties: Lewis & Clark County, Broadwater County, Gallatin County, Park County, Sweetgrass County, Madison County, and Meagher County.
David said more officers and detectives would certainly help, but right now that isn’t an option.
“It would be nice to have more resources. I think that goes for everybody that does the job I do,” said David. ”We just do the best with the people we have and the resources that are available.”
-John Riley reporting for MTN News