Oregon health officials sound alarm on increased overdose deaths

Health officials in Oregon are sounding the alarm regarding fentanyl overdoses and warning legislators that the state's drug epidemic is worsening, according to a Sept. 21 report from the Oregon Capital Chronicle. 

In 2021, nearly a third of Oregon's counties saw more people die from a fentanyl overdose than from any other type of overdose, according to the latest data from the Oregon Health Authority. The same year, authorities seized 1.3 million pills laced with fentanyl which is more than a 1,000 percent increase from 2019.

The Oregon Health Authority reports that opioid deaths have nearly tripled, from 280 in 2019 to 739 in 2021. Furthermore, the Oregon Health Authority says 2022 is on track to record similar numbers. As public concern increases, some health officials recommend that everyone carry the overdose reversal drug naloxone to protect themselves and others, according to a Sept. 22 report from CBS affiliate KOIN 6.

"We'd like to see it as commonplace as an EpiPen would be for allergies, and that feeling of 'should I have this?' it's kind of weird, that's part of the work we're trying to do in demystifying having this on board," Portland-based Credena Health pharmacist Anthony Tran, PharmD, told KOIN 6.

Keith Humphreys, PhD, director of the Stanford Network on Addiction Policy, based at Stanford University in California, said that people need a push to seek treatment. 

"We need treatment and prevention policies that actually reduce drug use, as well as harm reduction programs that recognize the need to protect communities from the harms of drug use," said Dr. Humphreys.

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