Drugs in a rural community

14_pills_0015NEW CHOICE  — A confiscated pill bottle lays on display at the PCSO, The display is a collection of drug paraphernalia used to educate youth against drugs. I-O Photo by Melissa Barringer

By I-O Intern, Melissa Barringer

Drug trends within our community go in waves and even though it may seem like a big city issue, the problem can hit close to home.

Since 2005 the Montana Meth Project has been educating people on the risks associated with methamphetamine drugs.  “I’ve seen a significant drop in meth use,” says Pondera County Attorney MaryAnn Ries, “I attribute it to the meth project.”

The drop of meth use in Montana has been noticeable and Chief Gary Dent of the Conrad City Police also accredits the change of the meth trend to the Project.

Even with a noteworthy drop in meth in Montana, there has been a variable rise between overdosing and taking medications without a prescription.


In a community the size of Conrad, there will always be ongoing issues with different drugs because of trends. “One of the advantages we have as a community this size is we can go in cycles” says Dent.  Just as there are bad cycles in the phase, there are times when a drug trend declines. National trends run in cycles even in a small community and the abuse of prescription drugs are on the rise.


According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “16 million Americans age 12 and older had taken a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant, or sedative for nonmedical purposes.”

Another report by the Office of National Control Policy says, “More young people ages 12-17 abuse prescription drugs than any illicit drug except marijuana—more than cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined.”

Cynthia Grubb of the Pondera County Health Department says a problem lies within how people view prescriptions.

“There is a perception that if it is a prescription drug it is safe,” says Grubb.  Dent says when it comes to drug abuse “The most prolific is prescription drugs.  The availability is unbelievable.”

Prescription drugs begin to stock up cabinets and drawers allowing them to easily fall in the wrong hands.

Drug issues will never go away, but one way the community is fighting back is by educating youth.  On Aug. 2 Conrad will be hosting National Night Out to bring awareness to the community about crime and drug prevention.

There will be a wide array of activities at the Conrad Lions Club Pool Park from pony rides, bounce houses, a trampoline and even a helicopter.

“We want the whole family there,” says Dent, “I have always been a fan of activities that bring the family and community out,” and that is why National Night Out was brought to Conrad.

Local law enforcement will have displays of drugs along with demonstrations by the Conrad Fire Department, and the Search and Rescue, Conrad Ambulance crew and Border Patrol will also be present.

It will be the 28th annual National Night Out and it will be Conrad’s third year participating in the event.

Join the community on National Night Out to take part in the attractions and learn how to fight back against drug abuse.

Editor’s note: Melissa Barringer is a CHS alumna and a communications major at Whitworth College and is interning at the I-O. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .