HELENA — The State of Montana has contracted with six treatment providers to pilot an integrated, evidence-based program to expand the State’s capacity to treat stimulant use disorders, such as methamphetamine use. The new program is called “Treatment of Users of Stimulants” also know as TRUST.
It’s no secret that methamphetamine (meth) has been and continues to be a challenge for Montana communities. According to 2019 data from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), more than 12,000 Montanans over the age of twelve used the drug at least once. The overdose death rate in the state is 7.2 per 100,000 people, compared to the national average of 5.7 per 100,000.
“People are dying in Montana because of methamphetamine,” said DPHHS Addictive and Mental Disorders Division Administrator Zoe Barnard. “It has dramatically increased child removals due to foster care and, in addition to that, studies show that methamphetamine use increases hostility or violence twofold.”
Over 65 percent of Child and Family Services Division substance-use related placements list meth as the primary drug.
TRUST is a multi-component program that is designed for an initial 12-week intensive intervention, followed by up to nine months of assistance to support continued recovery and stabilization. The program uses behavioral health strategies with evidence of efficacy in assisting individuals to reduce and/or discontinue their stimulant use.
The program is part of Gov. Greg Gianforte’s Healing and Ending Addiction through Recovery and Treatment (HEART) Initiative and is funded primarily through a near $1 million federal grant. The Heart fund is comprised of marijuana tax revenues, a portion of the Big Tobacco tax settlement and a federal Medicaid match.
“The impact that meth and other stimulants have in Montana is immense,” Governor Gianforte said. “The drug crisis we face is ripping apart our families and devastating our communities. It’s critical we invest in treatment to effectively address the impact of these toxic substances on the brain and to support patients in their long-term recovery from this chronic illness. I appreciate the effort that has gone into launching TRUST, and look forward to following the progress in the months and years ahead.”
Barnard says the TRUST program is already underway and can be implemented across the state thanks to telehealth services, even in rural communities.
“This gives hope to everyone,” she explained. “This gives hope to the users and this gives hope to the people in communities such as law enforcement and schools. This gives them hope that things that are causing problems in their community, we can have an effect on them.”
The providers are Benefis Health System in Great Falls, Alternatives, Inc. in Billings, Rimrock Foundation in Billings, Bullhook Community Health Center in Havre, Southwest Montana Community Health Center in Butte, and Alluvion Health in Great Falls.
The pilot sites received intensive training and ongoing technical assistance from national expert Dr. Richard Rawson of the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Research Professor at the Vermont Behavior and Health.
DPHHS says over the next two years, up to 420 clients could receive treatment in the TRUST program. If TRUST is approved for Medicaid billing, many more sites could be added in the coming years as well.
If you or someone you know are facing are battling addiction, know that help is available. The State of Montana has a list of resources that can help those facing a wide array of challenges.