If you live in the Portland metro area, it’s probably not going to be a huge surprise to you that fentanyl related overdoses are on the rise in Portland and Oregon in general.
With everything our city has been through in the last handful of years, perhaps one of the most tragic pieces of the “the problem” is the rapid rise in deaths related to synthetic opioids.
Why is fentanyl so much more dangerous than other opioids?
Fentanyl is much, much more potent than heroin or other opioids. Like all opioids, it is highly addictive. But unlike other opioids, just a small amount of fentanyl can be life-threatening. When buying opioids in an unregulated market, it’s all too easy to make mistakes in dosage and this problem is especially compounded when a highly concentrated substance like fentanyl is added into the mix. The purity of drugs varies from dealer to dealer and tends to change over time, from batch to batch. Sometimes folks who are accustomed to purchasing meth or other non-opioids like ecstasy or cocaine don’t even know that their latest purchase has been adulterated with fentanyl. Sometimes dealers themselves don’t realize exactly what it is they are selling until it’s too late.
What kinds of problems has Portland been seeing with fentanyl-related overdoses?
The headlines are as disturbing as some of the personal stories we hear from patients here at Shanti Wellness and Recovery.
Some statistics jump out at us. For example, there has been a 210% jump in fentanyl-related deaths in Oregon since 2020.
Close to a dozen children, including a baby, have experienced a fentanyl-related overdose this year in Portland. These incidents are often accidental, as an unsupervised child gains access to a poorly stored cache of pills.
There have also been mass overdose events in downtown Portland. Because so many users share the same dealers and batches, these events will likely become more common as especially dangerous products continue to inundate the marketplace.
Why has fentanyl seen such a rise in Portland?
There’s a few answers to this question.
For one, the availability of fentanyl has grown rapidly throughout the United States in recent years. However, it does seem that the Northwest has seen a larger supply than other areas. This is likely due to the trade routes between China, Mexico and the United States and the way the precursors to fentanyl, along with the manufactured product itself, is most easily moved from point A to point B. The I-5 corridor has long been a distribution route for all manner of illicit goods, with fentanyl being no exception. Portland’s easy access to the I-5 corridor is definitely one reason for the explosive growth of fentanyl in our area.
As we’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, Oregonians continue to report some of the highest rates of substance use disorder in the nation, while the state also consistently ranks at the bottom for treatment availability in the country. The fentanyl crisis has only compounded this situation, as more and more people with SUD transition to fentanyl as their primary substance of use.
It’s important to note that, for many, there is no element of choice in this transition – as fentanyl has taken over the marketplace, it has pushed other, less potent options to the sidelines. Where heroin used to be on offer, fentanyl is now the only option on the menu for many.
Is treatment available for fentanyl addiction in Portland?
Absolutely, yes. There are several different treatment programs and clinics in the Portland metro area, and we’re proud to be one of them.
At Shanti Recovery and Wellness, we accept nearly all forms of insurance and we rarely have a long waitlist. We offer holistic outpatient treatment that works around your goals and your schedule, with minimal disruption to your busy life. We have medication assisted treatment available for those who want access to the latest evidence-based treatment options for opioid use disorder, including fentanyl use disorder. Our family-style clinic is operated under the close medical supervision of Dr. Bahl and staffed by a team of Nurse Practitioners and other addiction treatment professionals. Our personalized treatment plans generally include counseling, nutrition support, medication management and regular checkups to ensure that you stay on track.
Other blog posts we’ve written regarding the fentanyl crisis in Portland
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