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Coalition examining ways to fight drug abuse in Yellowstone County

Posted at 10:51 PM, Jul 17, 2019

BILLINGS- The Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect Coalition, formed to help fight drug crime and substance abuse, wrapped up two days of talks Wednesday aimed at coming up with a plan to find solutions to problems caused by substance abuse and make changes in the way the community responds.

“The point of that is to create a community plan to really get a hold of this issue. We want to drastically reduce drug-related crime and addiction and all the associated consequences in Billings,” said the Kristin Lundgren of the United Way of Yellowstone County and project director for the Substance Abuse Connect Coalition.

The coalition consists of dozens of people working in substance abuse, mental health, law enforcement, as well as other local city and county leaders.

A study done earlier this year showed drug abuse, particularly meth, is having a devastating effect on many families in the county with an uptick in crime, hospital admissions, and abuse and neglect of children.

“We know that substance abuse is the 10th-leading cause of death for us. People are dying literally because of this problem. Children are growing up in homes where substance abuse is normalized. One in five youth say they know someone who is a dealer. We have a problem in our community some of those things are shocking,” said Lundgren.

Much of the talk the past two days focused on what to do about those in crisis, but eventually the multi-pronged effort will also include prevention.  A community plan that outlines tangible priorities is expected to be finished by December.