MEDFORD, Ore-- On Sunday, Jackson County Public Health issued an Overdose Alert, after health officials say that the county experienced three overdose fatalities over the last two weeks.
According to JCPH, some of the overdoses are suspected to be from fentanyl, is a synthetic opioid approved for treating severe pain. Health officials say that the drug is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The drug is usually is prescribed in the form of transdermal patches or lozenges and can be diverted for misuse and abuse in the United States.
Jackson County Public Health says that cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdoses, and deaths in the United States, are linked to illegally made fentanyl. Health officials say that it is often mixed with heroin or other drugs and is sold as a counterfeit prescription opioid pill, with or without the user’s knowledge. Street fentanyl can be in the form of white, gray, or tan powder, dropped on blotter paper, eye dropper or nasal sprays.
JCPH says that the alert has been issued to inform the medical community, law enforcement, and the county of the rise in fatal overdoses in Jackson County.
According to Tanya Phillips, an employee for Jackson County Public Health, the Overdose Alert program was started back in the spring of 2018, when Jackson County experienced 10 fatalities from overdoses in a short period of time.
Here is a short list of some of the things that JCPH says could help reduce the risk of some overdosing:
1. Using illicit opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl increases the risk of overdosing. There is no safe way to use illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, but precautions can be taken that may help reduce the risk. The street drug supply has always been unpredictable and inconsistent. Assume overdose risk no matter what drug you are using.
2. Abstaining from drug use is the best way to eliminate the risk of overdose. Ask the person about their willingness to begin medication-assisted treatment or drug treatment. A list of resources can be found on the Oregon Recovers website https://oregonrecoverynetwork.org/. Call the SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This is a free, confidential,
24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. The Jackson County Syringe Exchange Program provides referrals for medication-assisted treatment or drug treatment to people who utilize the program’s services.
3. It is critical to call 911 when someone is overdosing from opioids. If you use naloxone, the effects are temporary, and the person still needs medical attention. After the medication wears off, the person could fall back into a coma. If you call 911 for someone having a drug overdose, Oregon’s Good Samaritan Law protects you from being arrested or prosecuted for drug-related charges or parole/probation violations based on information provided to emergency responders. If someone is overdosing from using fentanyl, it may take more naloxone to reverse the overdose. It can take about 2-3 minutes for the naloxone to take effect.
4. Even people who haven’t used in a while may relapse and are at increased risk of overdosing. It is important to be aware of your tolerance and always use less.
5. Have an overdose plan, make sure someone can get to you when you use it, and it is safest to use when you are with someone you trust. Smoking or snorting illicit opioids may help reduce the risk. A person can still overdose by using these methods, especially with fentanyl. Always assume there is a risk of overdosing.
6. BE PREPARED. GET NALOXONE. SAVE A LIFE. Even if you do not use illicit opioids, but you know someone who does, you will want to carry naloxone in case you are in the position to use it on someone. Oregon law allows lay people to carry and use naloxone on
others. You can get naloxone through these avenues: Any pharmacist in Oregon can prescribe naloxone to you. You do not need a
prescription in Oregon to access naloxone through a pharmacy. List of Oregon pharmacies distributing naloxone. Anyone who can prescribe medication can send a naloxone prescription to your pharmacy. People who utilize the Syringe Exchange Program can receive free naloxone. Free naloxone is available through Max’s Mission and HIV Alliance. Max’s Mission is holding a naloxone distribution event at Hawthorne Park, Thursday,March 4, 2021, from 2-4 pm.
7. It is important not to mix drugs because drugs taken together can interact in ways that
increase their overall effect and increase the risk of overdosing