Opioids are becoming a problem in our local Montana communities, leading to more addiction than ever before. Studies from Mayo Clinic have shown that one in three people who use opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and 10 percent of people become addicted.
The Shelby High School Med Prep class has been researching the origin of the opioid crisis and what caused it in the first place. Opioids are a class of drugs that started as pain relievers available by legal prescriptions for people after surgery and helping those with chronic or severe pain, but usage has partially evolved into the illegal drug heroin and other synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, being abused. Opioids have their place in relieving pain.
The evolution has led to opioids becoming stronger, causing more overdoses and death. Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen says Montana experienced a 116 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths from 2019 to 2020 and a 112 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths from 2020-2021.