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Overdose Deaths Spike In Oregon

Syringes, spoon, and case.
Matthew T. Rader

The Oregon Health Authority tracked state data from April and May of this year, and compared it to the same period last year.  The difference?

“Nearly a 70% increase in the number of overdose deaths," says Dr. Tom Jeanne, deputy state health officer. He says illicit fentanyl, heroin, and meth have driven the increase.

Jeanne says while the data is preliminary, it shows a steady rise in opioid use across Oregon. Overdose deaths increased between April and May of this year by 28% alone.  The pandemic may be a factor.

"Many stressors related to COVID-19 itself, as well as the jobs, or school, and social isolation can really increase everybody’s anxiety and depression, and could maybe lead to more harmful levels of drug use.”

Officials urge people to carry naloxone which can reverse opioid overdoses, and to seek help through the Safe + Strong Helpline at (800)923-4357 (800-923-HELP).  And Jeanne says if someone is using opioids, not to use alone as isolated users are more prone to overdose risks.

Copyright 2020, KLCC. 

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. He is a 20-year reporter who has worked at NPR, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including three Edward R. Murrow Awards and the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award in 2012.