Montana Slow To Deploy Opioid Crisis Funds

Montana Slow To Deploy Opioid Crisis Funds

( – Fourteen companies have been ordered to pay millions, some even billions, of dollars for their contributions to the opioid crisis. The money is supposed to go to each of the states, where it can help with drug treatment efforts. A recent report indicated that Montana has been especially slow to use its funds, and people are dying in the meantime.

Unclaimed Grants

Montana received a settlement agreement on November 26, 2021. The draft notes that each county is to receive a certain percentage of the available funds, with the bulk of the money — 70% of what Montana receives — going to the Abatement Trust. That money, controlled by the Advisory Committee, remains open for backing opioid program proposals and services to treat opioid substance abuse. Each region is responsible for budgeting and distributing the money it receives. According to CBS News, Montana has been slow when it comes to actually spending those resources.

A glance at the figures in November showed the state reportedly still hadn’t touched the $2.4 million it had received for distribution to state agencies. Montana Opioid Abatement Trust Executive Director Rusty Gackle explained that they were still working on finalizing many of their plans and figuring out how best to use the money. He noted that they are working to put systems in place to allow local leaders to make their requests and accept payments. Part of the slowdown could be the result of bad timing. Montana was reportedly one of the last states to receive the settlement. It also isn’t the only state that has been slow to deploy funds. CBS News reported that Hawaii and West Virginia are also lagging behind.

Deadly Epidemic

The Montana Substance Use Disorders Task Force Strategic Plan states that about 79,000 residents of the state suffer from a substance abuse disorder. Drug overdoses are one of its leading causes of death, and opioids are the main driving force behind those casualties, accounting for 35% of overdose-related deaths in the state. Alcohol dependence, which also contributes to hundreds of deaths each year, and methamphetamine use add significantly to Montana’s substance abuse problem. Even worse, roughly 92% of all sufferers aren’t in any kind of treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 106,699 US residents died of drug overdoses in 2021, which is 16% higher than the stats for 2020. About 75% of those deaths were connected to opioid use, with up to 66% of those being attributed to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Montana saw 199 of those fatalities.

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