Blackfeet tribe declares emergency after drug overdoses

March 23, 2022 GMT

BROWNING, Mont. (AP) — Blackfeet Tribal leaders declared a state of emergency on the northwestern Montana reservation following a string of fentanyl overdoses and drug-related deaths.

There were four deaths tied to drugs and 17 overdoses over a one week period this month, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council said Monday. Tribal leaders say they will set up a drug prevention task force to help combat the problem.

Fentanyl is a highly-potent synthetic opioid that experts say has been a top driver of growing numbers of overdose deaths across the U.S. It can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine.

An estimated 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses over a one-year period ending in April 2021, a never-before-seen milestone that health officials say is also tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.