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State of emergency: Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids have increased five times between 2018 and 2022 in Multnomah County

Oregon – Officials in Oregon have set up a 90-day emergency plan to tackle the severe fentanyl problem in Portland.

Three Oregon officials agreed on this decision

On Tuesday, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek, Jessica Vega Pederson, the Chair of Multnomah County, and Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler, all agreed to this urgent action after getting advice from the Portland Central City Task Force. In Multnomah County, where Portland is, deaths from fentanyl and similar drugs have gone up by 533% from 2018 to 2022, says the county health office.

Officials in Oregon have set up a 90-day emergency plan to tackle the severe fentanyl problem in Portland and Multnomah County

“Our country and our state have never seen a drug this deadly and addictive, and all are grappling with how to respond,” Kotek said in the announcement. “The Chair, the Mayor and I recognize the need to act with urgency and unity across our public health and community safety systems to make a dent in this crisis.”

State of emergency means more freedom for taking immediate action

This emergency action lets officials use more resources to fight this problem and set up a central command in Portland. This place will provide daily services and help people get the care they need, the announcement explained.

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The newly created command center will not only keep track of and share updates on how fentanyl is affecting Portland but will also look into where more help is needed, find solutions, and make sure the right support is given, as stated in the announcement.

Moreover, the Multnomah County Health Department plans to start campaigns aimed at preventing drug use among the youth. These efforts will highlight the success of recovery programs and work towards removing the shame associated with seeking treatment. The messages will be spread through various channels like online, billboards, and podcast ads.

The announcement also mentions ongoing efforts by the Portland Police and Oregon State Police to crack down on those distributing fentanyl.

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Chair Jessica Vega Pederson expressed empathy for those struggling with fentanyl addiction, emphasizing the urgent collective response to mitigate the drug’s devastating effects on individuals and families, including overdoses, deaths, and the widespread fear it causes.

Fentanyl continues to be top issue in the country

The announcement highlighted fentanyl’s potency, noting it is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more so than morphine, as per the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s findings.

Fentanyl is very dangerous, even in tiny amounts. It’s super strong and often mixed into other drugs without being noticed unless those drugs are tested, the CDC says.

All over the country, more people are dying because of drugs, and a lot of these deaths involve fentanyl. A report by the CDC from last year found that, from January 2019 to June 2022, over 107,000 people died from drug overdoses. Most of these deaths were due to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which is made illegally. According to the CDC, fentanyl is causing more than 150 deaths every single day from overdoses.

Lavinia Beaumont


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