In response to a surge in suspected fatal overdoses, emergency department admissions, and law enforcement responses during week 46 (November 12-18), Jackson County Public Health has issued an overdose alert specifically addressing illicit opioids, notably fentanyl.
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl use has been on the rise in Jackson County since 2018, with a significant increase observed in early 2021. Sold as counterfeit pills or in powder form resembling other substances, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, fentanyl poses an escalating threat to those experimenting with drugs or using recreationally.
The health authority urges the medical community, community partners, parents, friends, recreational drug users, and individuals with substance use disorders to be vigilant about the heightened risk of fatal and nonfatal overdoses associated with illicit opioids.
While complete abstinence is the safest approach, recognizing the unpredictable nature of street drugs, the public is encouraged to explore harm reduction strategies:
- Abstain or Seek Treatment: Explore medication-assisted treatment, drug treatment, or peer support programs. Resources are available on the Oregon Recovers website or by calling SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- Call 911 During Overdose: Act promptly when witnessing an overdose, call 911, and utilize naloxone. However, note that naloxone’s effects are temporary, and medical attention is still crucial.
- Monitor Tolerance: Individuals with reduced opioid use tolerance are at higher risk; always be aware of your tolerance and use less.
- Use Drug Testing Strips: Employ fentanyl test strips, available through Syringe Exchange Programs in Jackson County, to check drug supplies for fentanyl presence, albeit with caution due to potential inaccuracies.
- Have an Overdose Plan: Plan for emergencies, ensure someone trustworthy is available, and use the 24/7 Never Use Alone Hotline: 1-800-662-4357 when needed.
- Consider Naloxone: Be prepared with naloxone. It’s available over the counter, through prescriptions, and for free through various programs like the Jackson County Syringe Exchange, Max’s Mission, and HIV Alliance.
As the county grapples with the increasing infiltration of illicit fentanyl, proactive measures and community awareness play a pivotal role in minimizing the devastating impact on public health.
Source: Jackson County Public Health