(First United Methodist Church in downtown Billings will host a panel discussion on opioid use and abuse at the end of this month. Ed Kemmick/Last Best News)
BILLINGS – A panel discussion on “Opioids: A Community Issue,” is scheduled for Sunday, April 29, at First United Methodist Church, 2800 Fourth Ave. N. in downtown Billings.
Presented by the Mental Health Friends Network of First United Methodist Church, the event will feature a panel of experts discussing opioid use and abuse in our region. This program is being presented as a kick-off Mental Health Awareness Month in May.
The program will begin with lunch at 11:45 a.m., followed by the panel discussion at 12:30. There is no charge for the program, but a free-will offering will be requested for lunch.
The moderator will be Brian Hunter, director of Youth Ministry at the church. Panel members will be:
♦ Yellowstone County Sheriff Deputy Patrol Sergeant Robert Lester.
♦ FBI Victim Specialist Erin Harris.
♦ Montana Peer Network Executive Director Jim Hajny.
♦ Carol and John Keenan, parents who experienced the drug overdose death of their daughter, Mary Kate Keenan.
♦ Mental Health Center Licensed Counselor Al Falcon.
Panelists will address substance use disorders, access, family impact, crime, addiction, prescription drugs vs. illicit drugs, how people slide into addictive use, and safeguards to help keep drugs out of the wrong hands. The goal of the program is to increase public awareness about the opioid issue and begin a conversation that includes the faith community.
Childcare will be offered with an advance reservation. To reserve your seat, call Billings First United Methodist Church at 406-245-3002 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, “Drug overdose deaths are on the rise nationally and are the third leading cause of injury-related death in Montana, accounting for 1,334 deaths between 2003 and 2014. The rate of opioid overdose death in Montana was just below the national average of 5.5 per 100,000 in 2013-2014, at 5.4 deaths per 100,000.”