HELENA — A new report released Wednesday by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services partnership with the Montana Board of Pharmacy showed a decrease in opioid use and deaths from 2012-2017.
The results were released at a conference at the Capitol in Helena, which was held to address the overall progress being made in the fight against opioid abuse in Montana.
The report also noted a decrease in the average daily dose of opioids since 2012.
"It was the invisible epidemic that no one was confronting," Gov. Steve Bullock said.
Bullock, along with several other state health officials, presented key findings from the report.
According to the report, from 2012 to 2017, there was an overall 4 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions, and the average daily dose of opioids decreased by 23 percent.
Dr. Greg Holzman, state medical officer with DPHHS says, is encouraging, but still not enough.
"Even though the numbers are lower in Montana, they are still preventable deaths, and each preventable death is one too many," Holzman said.
Holzman says we as a state need to have two goals: minimize or prevent unnecessary opioid prescriptions, and ensure opioids are not being used by someone without a prescription.
If you, or someone you know has a legal opioid prescription, you need to be aware of the resources available to you in order to prevent accidental overdoses.
Dr. William Gallea, physician from Central Montana Medical Center, says Montana has a standing order for a medication called Naloxone.
"Naloxone has become much more important as one of the life saving parts as a response to that situation because it rapidly reverses the affects of an opiod overdose," Gallea said.
Because of the standing order for Naloxone, which was signed into law by Bullock in 2017, anyone can get the opioid reversal medication from their pharmacy without a prescription.
"We want Naloxone carried by the people who are on these high doses, carried by the addicts, carried by their families and friends, as well as anyone who would respond first to an emergency like that," Gallea said.
State health officials would also like to remind everyone how important it is to properly dispose of any unused opiod medication.
There are now over 165 medication drop boxes in the state of Montana .