MISSOULA, Mont. - Community leaders praised efforts today to educate Montanans about prescription drug misuse.
Missoula Mayor John Engen, County Commissioner Jean Curtiss, a pharmacist, a doctor, and Missoula law enforcement officials were among the group that helped kick off Prescription Drug Misuse Awareness Week Tuesday.
They say they're starting to see a decline in prescription drug abuse in the community since Montana adopted the Prescription Drug Registry in 2010, and they've dedicated more resources to the problem.
But as a result, law enforcement officials say some users have been turning to other drugs like heroin.
"Since the Montana Prescription Drug Registry has been in effect, that was one of the side effects we thought would happen," said Prescription Drug Diversion Detective Dean Chrestenson. "The drug task force…yes, we have seen a rise."
According to recent stats from the United States Justice Department from 2008 to 2013 there was a 320 percent increase in heroin seized along the Southwest U.S. border.
Between 2006 and 2010, heroin overdose deaths increased by 45 percent.
Since 2011, the DEA has opened more than 4,500 investigations related to heroin.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder vowed earlier this year that the Justice Department would increase enforcement and treatment efforts across the country.
Other prescription drug events being held in Missoula this include week a community conversation Wednesday, April 16 at 7 p.m. at City Life Community Center.
Next Saturday April 26 is a drug take back day at Southgate Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.