The issue of opioid addiction and who should be held responsible is, of course, a national issue, but state and local governments are taking legal action against pharmaceutical companies too. Lake County is now pursuing legal recourse and County Commissioner Dave Stipe says they will be working hard the next 30 days to try to estimate the costs of opioid addiction and response on county services.

“In the jail, how many people were in there for abuse of opioids,” Stipe asked. “How many people went through the court system for abuse of opioids? How many people did the health department deal with? You could even go as far as the organizations that protect women, how many of them were there because the spouse was an opioid addict?”

Commissioner Stipe says two law firms came asking for the county to pursue a lawsuit because of the high levels of drug addiction there.

“It is a two part thing,” Stipe said. “There is a local law firm involved, Boone Karlberg, and then they are associated with a Texas law firm. The Texas law firm does this type of thing full time. They know the questions to ask us. Part of it is because we are in a reservation and drug use is a little higher here. We were approached because of that.”

Stipe was hesitant to even make a ballpark guess on the total cost of opioid addiction in Lake County. Lake County isn’t the first in Montana to pursue legal recourse, but other counties like Missoula County haven’t done so, at least yet.