Detective Dean Chrestenson is the Missoula Police Department’s point man when it comes to investigating ‘prescription drug diversion’, which involves among other tasks, the use and misuse of opiod drugs.

“A true epidemic is what we have,” said Chrestenson. “A lot of people like to throw that word around, but it truly is an epidemic and has been for many years, this opiod use and misuse. A lot of people are dying and we’re trying to combat that. Our department has combined with the DEA and now I also work as a Drug Task Force officer with reference to prescription drug cases.”

Along with enforcement, Chrestenson said he also emphasizes the educational aspect of his duties.

“I go out and talk to community members including middle school and high school kids, business owners, physicians, pharmacies and aging services so we can pretty much reach the gamut of society trying to discuss the dangers of prescription drugs when they’re misused and abused, along with how to keep them safe and dispose of them properly,” he said. “These drugs are highly addictive. The federal government rates them from one through five. A schedule one drug is highly addictive and schedule two is the opiods. When a normal person starts taking them after an injury or a surgery, some can become addicted. In addition, it can be very profitable to sell opiod drugs. There’s a third problem, in that heroin is also an opiod drug. If they can’t get heroin, they’ll try to get more opiod prescriptions to satisfy their addiction.”

Chrestenson said the drug treatment world is both crowded and expensive.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have enough places for them to go, and the places we do have, the majority of those are already full or have long waiting lists,” he said.

Chrestenson said there are several agencies that can help people deal with an opiod addiction problem.

“Your healthcare provider is a good start,” he said. “There’s the Partnership Health Center which is helpful for those who are low income, and we have another group here in Missoula called Open Aid Alliance where they want to help people with their addictions and keep them safe and healthy.”

Anyone with questions for Detective Dean Chrestenson can contact the Missoula Police department at 552-6300.