Flathead officials host town hall on opioid crisis

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The nationwide opioid crisis is affecting the Flathead Valley, and officials are coming together to stop drug abuse

Police chiefs from around the county are hosting a town hall meeting Tuesday to try to find a solution.

Opioid abuse can happen anywhere and to anyone.

"I did read … that in the past 20 years alone that the drug epidemic in Montana has gone crazy,” said Kalispell resident Mike Thompson.

According to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, overdose deaths are the third leading cause of injury-related death in the state.

Kalispell Interim Chief of Police Wade Rademacher told NBC Montana it is a problem in the Flathead Valley.

"In the last few years we have seen an uptick in heroin use, which I think in a lot of ways can be associated to abusing prescription drugs,” said Rademacher. “Opioids have become a major crisis."

In 2017 drug offenses in the city of Kalispell accounted for about 15 percent of all crimes. Theft made up 23 percent. Rademacher said the two are related.

Flathead Valley Chemical Dependency Center prevention specialist Linda Ravicher would agree.

"In trying to support that habit, that addiction, they turn to crime often, and they steal," said Ravicher.

Ravicher brought police chiefs from across the valley together to hold a town meeting to make the community aware of the problem.

"We all can do our part to reduce the availability of these drugs to be an advocate for yourself and your youth, your family," said Ravicher.

Ravicher said law enforcement officials are not going to be able to stop the problem on their own. She said it is about prevention and awareness, reducing the availability of the drugs and the police enforcement of stopping drug trafficking.

The town hall meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell.

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