Opioid overdoses on the rise in Billings - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Opioid overdoses on the rise in Billings

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

The use of opiates continues to be an epidemic across the nation. According to doctors, opioid overdose is the number one leading cause of death for people under the age of 50.

Jim Bentler is the medical director of the St. Vincent Healthcare Emergency Department. He has been an emergency physician for about 20 years and said he has seen an estimated 60 thousand patients in that time frame.

Bentler said the number one opioid drug he has seen being abused is oxycodone. He said that most recently, he has seen a seemingly rash use of China White, which is a mix of opiates. He also said it causes a significant sedation and respiratory depression, and even respiratory arrest. Bentler said that's when people run into problems.

"I can say that over the last 5 or 10 years, the rate of opiate use has gone up markedly and I'm talking from patients I see on chronic opiates for chronic pain and what not to overdoses and beyond," Bentler said.

Bentler also said it is highly likely each person in Billings will know at least one person who uses opiates.

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