COOS COUNTY — A representative from the Oregon Attorney General’s office is coming to Coos County to talk with local teens.
“About a month ago, I was contacted by the Attorney General’s office with concern about synthetic opioids like fentanyl impacting Coos and Curry counties,” said Kate Frame, the prescription drug overdose prevention coordinator at Advanced Health. “The Department of Justice tracks trends and what may be coming as far as fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.”
According to Frame, the Attorney General’s office is worried about recent overdoses happening around the state but also on the Southern Oregon Coast. In fact, Lane County saw 10 overdoses in three days earlier this month. All were reversed with naloxone, a drug that blocks opiate receptors in the brain, meaning there were no fatalities.
In fact, fentanyl is being used to lace drugs like black tar heroin and even synthetic cannabis.
“The reason this is such a public health crisis and a public safety crisis is that fentanyl is more potent than heroin,” Frame said. “People are taking normal amounts of heroin not knowing it is laced with fentanyl, so there is no concern for overdose. There needs to be a lot of public awareness that needs to be raised around the risk. According to the Attorney General’s Office, it’s not a matter of if this starts happening here, but when.”
The AG representative, along with Advanced Health and Youth ERA, will hold a youth forum on Nov. 7. The effort behind the forum is educate teens at the Coos Drop about the dangers of opioids, including fentanyl. The forum also seeks to hear from the youth, as well as answer their questions.
However, this is not the only upcoming public event to raise awareness on the rising drug problem. On Nov. 8, Advanced Health is partnering with the Coos County District Attorney’s office to hold a town hall at the Mill Casino to talk about trends being seen. Local partners will also be there to discuss what drug recovery infrastructure exists in the community now.
“We will have a panel from Public Health, the Department of Corrections, law enforcement, health care, and the HIV Alliance,” Frame said.
Then on Nov. 14, there will be a naloxone training and effort to put at least two doses of naloxone into people’s hands. Though Advanced Health is involved, it is being hosted by Max’s Mission from Medford and HIV Alliance in an effort to educate people on how to use the overdose-reversing medication.
Attendees will receive naloxone for free.
“First responders and law enforcement has it, but everyone needs to have it,” Frame said. “The HIV Alliance is supplying naloxone for free because not everyone has a budget to pay for it. Two doses can cost around $50 to $60.”
Though, Frame added that most insurance companies will cover the cost of naloxone and the Oregon Health Plan covers it fully.
“People can go to the pharmacy and ask for it and their insurance will be billed,” Frame said. “I’m trying to track how much is being used here and how to work with outside partners to get it in every school and office like a first aid kit. That’s our goal, to get county and community-wide saturation. The HIV Alliance wants a bigger reach out here, and we’re happy to have them.”
More information will be published as the event dates get closer.