The opioid crisis is a national epidemic and Linn County is no exception. This is a dangerous drug that can result in death for those addicted to it. Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
What are the signs of an addiction*?
- Mixing with different groups of people or changing friends
- Spending time alone and avoiding time with family and friends
- Losing interest in activities
- Not bathing, changing clothes or brushing their teeth
- Being very tired and sad
- Eating more or less than usual
- Being overly energetic, talking fast and saying things that don’t make sense
- Being nervous or cranky
- Quickly changing moods
- Sleeping at odd hours
- Missing important appointments
- Getting into trouble with the law
- Attending work or school on an erratic schedule
- Experiencing financial hardship
Many opioid addicts start with prescription pills such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, legally prescribed to them, and escalate to buying pills illegally on the street. These “illegal” pills can be laced with stronger opioids such as fentanyl. This is sometimes known, but often unknown to the user, resulting in them overdosing.
- In 2017, there were 344 overdose deaths involving opioids in Oregon**.
- From 2015 to 2017, deaths involving fentanyl rose from 34 in 85 deaths**.
Linn County Sheriff’s Office deputies have seen this increase in opioid use and overdoses locally in the last several years. Deputies now carry Narcan nasal spray in their patrol vehicles to give life-saving treatment if they encounter someone in a medical overdose emergency and need of immediate treatment before medics arrive.
An overdose causing death can occur within minutes of using opioids. Signs of an overdose include*:
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Extreme sleepiness
- Inability to talk
- Blue skin color and dark-colored lips
- Snoring or gurgling sounds
If you or a loved one needs help you can visit http://drughelpline.org/opiate-hotline/ for some great resources.
For more information on opioids: https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/pain-management/opioid-treatment/opioid-abuse/
- *Source: asahq.org
- **Source: drugabuse.gov