What’s the Meth Problem like in Blackfeet Country?

Is it “Under the Carpet?”

            “Yes it [meth abuse] is an epidemic as far as I am concerned…it’s a choice drug here on the reservation,”  says Richard Rutherford, the police staff Sargent on the Blackfeet Indian reservation. 

But, the problem of meth abuse on the Blackfeet reservation is not necessarily as easy to see as it is on other reservations in Montana, many told me.  Or maybe it is just “ignored” as Linda Dusterhoff, nurse practitioner, stated.   “Under the carpet,” is the way a counselor in the Blackfeet treatment center describes the problem.  Whatever the case may be, every person I talked to believes that meth abuse is on the rise and will soon be a major drug problem for the Blackfeet.

            The problem of crank abuse is not so out-in-the-open especially in terms of treatment.  Counselors in both treatment centers, the Blackfeet Chemical Dependency Center and Pikuni Family Healing Center, said that people coming in with meth addiction exclusively, are rare.  More commonly a person comes in for treatment for alcohol abuse and later on in the therapeutic process reveals that they also suffer from addiction to methamphetamines.  This aspect of meth abuse, addiction to more than one drug, is frequently termed poly-substance abuse.  Poly-substance abuse is also demonstrated in the emergency room at the I.H.S. hospital.  Emergency room workers report that injuries from crimes such as domestic abuse are attributed to alcohol when actually there was meth abuse involved. 

Where does this Meth come from?

Another aspect of methamphetamines that is “under the carpet” is the topic of meth labs.  The police, counselors, and I.H.S. workers, say the possibility of a clandestine lab in the Browning area is high.  However, none have been located.  “There are rumblings in the community on the reservation that there are [meth labs].  But right now it is so easy to come across the mountain,”  Linda Dusterhoff explained. 

Most of the meth comes in from Tacoma and Seattle; it is so easy for it to come over the mountains that meth labs are unnecessary.  Wayne C. Dusterhoff, under sheriff for the Glacier County described the meth route, “Browning, Montana, is probably the focal point for narcotics because it comes from Seattle, Yakima, Missoula, Great Falls.  It all comes here and then it goes north.  But there is very little consequence for dealers in this area because of jurisdiction.”

So if it is so easy for these drugs like meth to come into Browning what is being done?                          

                        The Road to Recovery – an article on the Blackfeet Chemical Dependency Center

                        Blackfeet Nation Laws – specific code dealing with drug abuse on the Blackfeet Reservation

Uniting in the Struggle Against Speed - Blackfeet Reservation prevention efforts

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