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Announcing Listening Sessions to Tackle Substance Abuse

Behavioral Health, Health News, Foundation Updates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | June 6, 2017

MHCF Contact: Melinda Buchheit | (406)451-7060, melinda.buchheit@mthcf.org
Department of Justice Contact: Eric Sell | (406)444-2031, eric.sell@mt.gov
Governor’s Office Contact: Ronja Abel | (406)444-9725, rabel@mt.gov

Montana Healthcare Foundation announces listening sessions to tackle substance abuse

 Helena, Mont. – The Montana Healthcare Foundation (MHCF) announced Tuesday the dates and locations of four listening sessions to be held across Montana this summer, aimed at addressing the state’s substance abuse problem. To conduct the listening sessions, the Foundation has partnered with the Department of Justice, the Governor’s Office, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Public Health and Human Services, as well as educators, healthcare professionals, judges, business owners, and individuals who have had experiences with substance abuse.

“Substance use disorders are among the most serious and costly health problems facing Montana communities,” said MHCF CEO Dr. Aaron Wernham. “The Foundation is committed to working with communities and our state partners to find solutions.”

The listening sessions are designed to explore the challenges and opportunities communities face related to prevention and treatment of substance use disorders (SUD), and to identify effective, Montana-based solutions. Each session will gather input from stakeholders related to addressing the impact of substance abuse in Montana, and will lead up to a substance abuse and addiction summit later this fall.

Listening sessions will complement current efforts being led by the Department of Justice and the Department of Public Health and Human Services to improve outcomes for people struggling with substance use disorders.

“We have a substance abuse epidemic that’s crippling our state, and what’s currently being done to address this problem clearly isn’t enough,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “My office launched the Aid Montana initiative to develop a comprehensive strategy for combating substance abuse in Montana, and I’m excited to see such broad and diverse support for addressing this problem. I applaud the Montana Healthcare Foundation’s work in organizing these listening sessions, which will allow policymakers to gather the necessary input to formulate solutions to effectively combat substance abuse in Montana.”

“It takes a team effort to find Montana-made solutions to fight substance abuse,” said Governor Steve Bullock. “As a father and as governor, I’m committed to implementing the best tools to tackle this challenge – giving Montanans the treatment they need, while looking out for the most vulnerable among us.”

The methodology for gathering information includes: collecting information from stakeholders through structured interviews about SUD prevention, treatment, and its effects on Montana communities; four community listening sessions; and focus groups with persons with SUD. A related project recently brought stakeholders in Eastern Montana together in a similar forum, and findings from that discussion will also be used. The effort also includes researching and compiling information about best practice models for SUD prevention and treatment from other states and localities.

The fall summit will provide an opportunity for key local, state, and tribal partners to discuss and begin to formulate policy and programmatic approaches to better address SUD prevention and treatment in Montana. There will be 30-minutes for public comment at the end of each listening session. MHCF will produce a final report summarizing information collected through interviews, listening sessions, focus groups, research, and the summit. The final report will be focused on identifying potential solutions to the problem.

The listening sessions include:

  1. Butte – Friday, June 9th 10 AM-3 PM: Comfort Inn, 2777 Harrison Avenue.
  2. Kalispell – Thursday, June 22nd 10 AM-3 PM: Hilton Garden Inn, 1840 US Highway 93 South.
  3. Billings – Thursday, July 20th 10 AM-3 PM: Doubletree by Hilton, 27 North 27th Street.
  4. Havre – Friday, July 21st 10 AM-3 PM: Havre Inn and Suites, 1425 US Highway 2 NW.