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In Montana, experts believe it’s getting harder to find fentanyl tablets



Billings, Montana — On Fentanyl Awareness Day, experts spoke about the pandemic the drug has sparked and how it frequently hides in plain sight in Billings on Tuesday.

The concern stems in the fact that most fentanyl that is shipped to Billings or anywhere else in the nation resembles most other prescription or over-the-counter medications.

“They’re pressed to look like a 30mg tablet of oxycodone, but there’s no oxycodone in them. All that’s in them is fentanyl, and a very small amount of fentanyl is all it takes to have a very powerful effect,” said Dr. Robert Sherrick, chief medical officer of Community Medical Services, an addiction treatment facility with services in Montana, on Tuesday.

Due to its daily death toll of roughly 200, fentanyl is deemed by the DEA to be the worst menace facing Americans today.

Additionally, the medicine is still rather new.

“Starting about 2018 or 2019, we started seeing fentanyl and fentanyl is an opioid very much like oxycodone or heroin. It works at the same receptors in the brain. It is, however, far more potent,” added Sherrick.

It is extremely lethal to people between the ages of 18 and 45 and is around 100 times more strong than morphine.

The effects of fentanyl use are currently being felt personally in Billings.

“She decided to go after meth and that’s all it took and she’s dead. One time of using meth and she’s gone,” said Sheri Boelter, CEO of New Day Ranch in Billings, after her niece died just two weeks ago because that meth was laced with fentanyl.

She claimed that the medicine is widely available.

“We’ve actually seen some people that were purchasing marijuana on the street and then it was laced with fentanyl, and they become seriously addicted and they don’t understand why their whole lives are falling apart,” added Boelter.

Additionally, it is more likely to have an adverse effect on those who weren’t intended to take it given claims that it is mixed with substances like cocaine, heroin, and meth.

But according to Sherrick, many people are avoiding substances like heroin and opting straight for fentanyl because of the intense high the drug produces.

“Of our patients that come in for treatment, throughout Montana, including Billings, over 70% of them test positive for fentanyl,” said Sherrick.

Many people are concerned about this trend because they see no stop in sight.

“When you look at just how small of milligrams it takes to get to a high and then to die, is just so little. It’s just very frightening, it’s very scary. We’re losing too many people,” Boelter said.


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