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Billings families remember overdose victims

Posted at 10:35 PM, Aug 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 10:22:02-04

BILLINGS - International Overdose Awareness Day is a time to remember those who have lost their lives to drug overdoses and work toward ways to end a problem that has affected so many Montanans.

The third annual Overdose Awareness Day Montana at Rose Park provided a chance Wednesday to remember those who have been lost to fentanyl overdoses, as well as teach people and tell them about the problem and how they can help.

Kim Edinger and Carol Keenan each lost adult children to fentanyl overdoses.

"July 27 of 2017 is when he passed away," Edinger said about her son Kaden. "He was a straight A student and he went all the way down to barely graduating (from college). He had a lot of sadness and a lot of regret and the more they use, the sadder they get because the circumstances take them down. And the more down they go, the more they use to escape."

"November of 2016," Keenan said of her daughter Mary Kate. "When she got out of high school, she made the decision on her own to go to treatment, had a job and then unfortunately just made some choices that I don't know the circumstances because we got the call one night that she had overdosed and died."

Three years ago they decided to hold and co-chair Overdose Awareness Day Montana to help other families.

Nine pictures of people who have died from fentanyl overdoses lined the path the first year, and that has since increased to about 45.

According to the DEA, fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat in the country.

Two milligrams— or an amount equal to 10 to 15 grains of table salt— is lethal.

At the event, the Rimrock Foundation introduced its community Narcan training.

"This is a life-saving medicine," said. Dr. Sharon Mulvehill, Rimrock Foundation chief medical officer.

Mulvehill advises everyone to carry Narcan and says there is no risk in using it.

"It's actually biochemically reversing the opioid in the body, and it reverses the respiratory depression," Mulvehill said. "So people that are not breathing, start breathing again and they become awake and alert and they sit up. And then they can be tended to by paramedics who have been summoned."

"Even though it was carfentanyl, which is way stronger than fentanyl, it still would have saved his life if it would have been administrated," Edinger said about her son.

And they pass advice on to other families.

"Talk to them and just tell them that it's just not even once," Keenan said. "You never know what you're getting."