Events address drug addiction in local communities

Looking back, Kelly Lawrence thinks her son’s dependence on alcohol and drugs began when he was 14. But it’s hard to say — he hid his disease for so long. The first time he asked for help, he was in his 20s. She knew he was using heroin.

They started making calls to see how to get into treatment, but stagnated once their answer came attached to a three-week waiting list.

“When a heroin addict says they want help, they need it now,” Lawrence said. “They’re not going to go, ‘OK, I’ll be back in three weeks.’ No, they’re going to go feed their habit. You’ve got that split second in time to possibly help them.”

The day her son said he had an addiction was roughly six years ago. As she lit a cigarette outside the Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell, she counted down the days she had before she could pick her son up from jail.

Inside the inn, roughly 50 people gathered to talk about why the state’s number of people dependent on drugs continued to climb and what local communities needed to do to stop the trend.