Addiction expert on Oregon’s growing fentanyl crisis

Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 12:26 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – Fentanyl is fueling the overdose crisis in Oregon. Deaths related to the drug are rising and just recently, two Portland high school students were found dead after taking fentanyl-laced pills. Now, police agencies and local addiction specialists are sounding the alarm on unintentional overdoses.

Fentanyl can be found in powdered form. Locally, it’s been found in meth, heroin and counterfeit pills – and there’s no telling what contains the drug unless the substance is tested.

For instance, fentanyl strip tests are available for addicts at needle exchanges. However, for many Oregonians who aren’t addicts, fentanyl is still something to be cautious of.

“It’s being sold in powder form and more commonly in pressed pills to look like prescription oxycodone,” says Sarah Leitz, chief of addiction medicine at Kaiser Permanente.

Leitz says fentanyl is being linked to an increasing number of overdose deaths in Oregon while deadly overdoses have risen exponentially over the last couple of years.

“Because of the way it acts it’s extremely potent -- 50 to 100 times more potent than meth or heroin,” Leitz says. “Of course, we want people to only take prescription medicine that they pick up for them from a pharmacy. If they’re taking a medicine that’s not prescribed to them, recognize fentanyl is very prevalent and may be in those pills.”

Leitz says it’s also a good idea to have Narcan at home to stop overdoses – even if you are taking prescription medicine you get from a doctor.