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Jackson County Public Health Issues an Overdose

Jackson County Public Health is issuing an Overdose Alert for accidental overdoses
from illicit opioids. This alert is being issued based on an increase in emergency
department admissions, an increase in overdose responses by the Medford Police
Department, and three suspect fatal overdoses from illicit opioids in the last two weeks
(2/14 – 2/27). Some of the overdoses are suspected to be from fentanyl.

An Overdose Alert is issued because Jackson County Public Health has identified a
higher than expected number of accidental overdoses from illicit opioids over a specific
period of time.

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, approved for treating severe pain,
typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is
prescribed in the form of transdermal patches or lozenges and can be diverted for
misuse and abuse in the United States.

However, cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked
to illegally made fentanyl. It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect.
It is often mixed with heroin, other drugs or 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.
We are encouraging the medical community, other community partners, family and
friends, and people who suffer from opioid addiction to be aware of the increase in
overdoses. There are actions that can be taken to reduce the risk of someone

  • 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.
  • 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 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
    Please print the
    Exchange Program provides referrals for medication-assisted treatment or drug
    treatment to people who utilize the program’s services.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
    • 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.
  •  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.

    The Mission of Jackson County Health and Human Services is to plan, coordinate and
    provide public services that protect and promote the health and well-being of county

Contact Us:
Disease Reporting
at JCPH:
After Hours:
Jackson County
Public Health

Jackson County
Health & Human
Jim Shames
Medical Director

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