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Opioid Crisis Hits Right Here at Home

The opioid crisis has reached all corners of the country including right here in southern Oregon. Yet, it's still often difficult to put a face to the epidemic.

Posted: Jun 20, 2018 5:24 PM
Updated: Jun 20, 2018 6:11 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — The opioid crisis has reached all corners of the country including right here in southern Oregon. Yet, it's still often difficult to put a face to the epidemic.

The horrors are all too real for Mike Pelfrey and his family in Grants Pass.

Pelfrey lost his sister to an opioid overdose. She had been a nurse anesthetist and was caught using some of the drugs intended for her patients. At one point she even went to re-hab to save her job but went right back to abusing pain killers shortly after she completed the program.


One day, Pelfrey got the call that his sister had overdosed and died.

Representative Greg Walden is the chairman of the energy and commerce committee. The committee has brought 57 pieces of opiod related legislation to the House floor over the past two weeks. Walden explained the problems the legislation tries to address.

"How do you get access to treatment sooner for people who are addicted?" says Walden. "How do you get better practices in place for prescribing? How do you make sure the treatment people get is actually effective? How do you stop the illegal fentanyls coming into the country through greater inspection processes at our postal facilities?"

Pelfrey's son Zach is addicted to opioids. Pelfrey explained that it all started after a sports injury. At the time, Zach was in college on a baseball scholarship. Pelfrey says the doctor prescribed Zach painkillers and by the time they were finished, Zach was already addicted. So he moved onto options he could buy on the street. Pelfrey details how it all went downhill from there.

"We've had police come to our house because of choices our son made," remembers Pelfrey. "He spent lots of time in jail because of decisions that he made. All of this, I believe, because of the drug use.

However, Pelfrey says it hasn't changed the core of his son.

"Zach's personality is so awesome," says Pelfrey with tears in his eyes. "He's such a wonderful young man. Unfortunately, he has an issue. He has a problem. And that is a terrible addiction."

Walden acknowledges just how common Zach's story is around the country. He also admits it's going to take a multi-pronged approach to solve the problem - something the new legislation is trying to tackle.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5061240

Reported Deaths: 74159
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152548627128
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581504
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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