Bullock Announces $1.2M to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse
HELENA – Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock announced Thursday that his office has secured $1,230,902 to create a six-person drug diversion unit to fight the rampant abuse of prescription drugs.
“Without grabbing headlines or gaining the notoriety of other dangerous drugs, over 300 Montanans died last year from the abuse of prescription medications,” Bullock said. “As a state we need to develop a comprehensive approach to deal with this very real problem, an approach that includes prevention, treatment and law enforcement.”
The statewide, six-person team will include three investigators, a public outreach and education coordinator, a prosecutor available to handle cases throughout Montana and an administrative assistant.
The Montana Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation reports that 42 percent of the drug cases they’ve handled this year relate to prescription drugs, up dramatically from only seven percent in 2003.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health along with an Attitude Tracking Survey by the Partnership for a Drug Free America:
- Montana ranks 3rd in the nation for teen abuse of prescription pain relievers with 9.6 percent reporting abuse in the past year.
- Nationally, over 4 million people used prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes for the first time in 2008.
- Nearly 60 percent of abusers get prescriptions free from a friend or relative, while over 14 percent buy or steal them from a friend or relative.
- Only 24 percent of parents have talked with their kids about the dangers of prescription drugs.
“This grant is an investment in the future of our state and I look forward to having this team work with local law enforcement and our communities as we tackle prescription drug abuse head on,” Bullock added.
The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice and is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.