Thank you, Billings Gazette, for running the eight-part “Untreated, Addicted & Expecting” series, about pregnant women in Montana who are using illegal drugs. Though discouraging, it was very informative.

Additionally discouraging, two days later (Jan. 2), two of The Gazette’s three front-page headlines were about illegal drugs/opioids. The study by the National Council on Compensation Insurance showing that in 2016, 61 percent of prescriptions written for injured workers in Montana were for opioids, and 40 percent of injured workers who got an opioid prescription received it for an injury that occurred six or more years earlier, was stunning. The article about “pill mills” (not specific to Montana), added to these others, helps explain why our entire nation, including Montana, is in the midst of a serious drug crisis.

What frightens me is that most of us are not taking this drug crisis seriously, and the longer it takes us to do so, the larger it gets, and the more lives it devastates. This is not a problem that happens to other people who just make poor decisions.

It is abundantly clear that drug use is becoming more widespread and crossing educational, income and other demographic lines. Drugs are in schools, work places, social gatherings, hospitals, neighborhoods. More and more state and community medical, law enforcement, court, and corrections resources are being directed to our ballooning drug crisis instead of being used to build and enrich our communities.

It no longer works to assume “this doesn’t affect me or my life,” because it does and it will more and more as time goes on. Before we lose any more ground or any more lives, we need to come together in our communities and seriously address this very serious problem.

Adela Awner

Billings

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