DREAMS House brings 'Bitter Pills' art exhibit to DCC

Showcases works by artists affected by prescription drug abuse, addiction and recovery
If you go: Dates: April 18 - 20 Times: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Location: DCC Toepke Center

By Cindy Mullet

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

When DREAMS House organizer Marie-Christine Lamphier saw Resolve Montana’s art exhibit, the Bitter Pill: Montana Lives Affected by Rx Abuse, she knew instantly she wanted to bring it to Glendive and this week her efforts find success as the exhibit will be at Dawson Community College.

The road to Glendive for the exhibit wasn’t easy, she said. The first try fell through but then the DREAMS House organizers learned that a school which had booked the exhibit for three weeks had backed out and there was an opening for Glendive. They jumped on it and scheduled the exhibit for the Dawson Community College Toepke Center auditorium for April 18-20.

The traveling art exhibit showcases works from Montana artists who share their personal stories and art work addressing prescription drug abuse, addiction and recovery. The 40 works of art will be on display at DCC from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday with a special event scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Gina Whittle, another DREAMS House organizer said.

While DREAMS House has been the primary sponsor of the exhibit, other Glendive organizations have joined the effort and will participate in the Thursday evening presentation which will include a variety of speakers giving their personal experiences with addiction, talking about some trends and concerns they see and sharing stories. There will also be time for open discussion and Cross Petroleum will donate ice cream for all participants following the presentation, she said.

District II Drug and Alcohol representatives will be at the Thursday evening event to respond to any requests for assistance, she added.

Some of the other organizations involved in presenting the exhibit include Community GATE, Glendive Police Dept., Youth Probation, District II Drug and Alcohol, Glendive Probation and Parole, Dawson Community College, Dawson County Domestic Violence, Eastern Montana Community Mental Health, WATCh East and Glendive Medical Center, she said.

While they come from different points of view, these sponsors have all seen the problems addiction causes and recognize the seriousness of it to the Glendive community, she noted.

The exhibit is a year-long event sponsored by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the District of Montana US Attorney’s office and the Montana Attorney General’s office. It ends May 1 so Glendive will be one of the final exhibitions, she said.

The purpose of the exhibition is to educate and inform communities and bring awareness of the growing epidemic of prescription drug addiction. Organizers hope college and high school classes will visit the exhibit and discuss the impact of the art and the stories displayed, she added.

Prescription drug overdose lead to 369 deaths in Montana from 2011 to 2013. During that same time there were 7,200 inpatient admissions due to prescription drug overdose. Addiction can sneak up on a person who may receive pain medication for a surgery, become dependent on it, use more and more, begin to steal or use harder drugs to satisfy the addiction and possibly overdose or end up in jail, Lamphier noted.

According to statistics from the Resolve Montana website, 70 percent of prescription drug abusers get their drugs from friends or family members, the rate of prescription drug overdose deaths in Montana has doubled since 2000, 80 percent of heroin initiates previously used prescription opioids non-medically and prescription drug abuse is 15 times deadlier than meth, heroin and cocaine use combined.

The website notes: “There’s a saying, ‘Your perception is your reality.’ Until we start changing our perception of prescription drugs as being ‘not as dangerous’ as other drugs, we will continue to see a reality where too many Montana families are devastated by prescription drug overdoses. The conversation starts in our government agencies, in our doctors’ offices, schools and most importantly in our homes.”

DREAMS House hopes to open that conversation in Glendive through the Bitter Pill exhibition. There is no charge for the exhibit or for the Thursday evening presentation. The DCC auditorium will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

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