Decrease in opioid deaths in Oregon

ASHLAND, Ore. — Doctor Jim shames, the Jackson County Public Health officer says Oregon has made the most progress out of any other state in the nation when it comes to reducing opioid prescriptions and overdoses.

Dr. Shames says the significant progress can be attributed to the collaborative work done throughout the state by The Oregon Health Authority, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many more.

Leaders from around the state have worked to make changes with health care providers. Some of those changes include reducing the amount of prescribed opioids.

He says the drug naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose, have been accessible for people to use and administer.

“The overall prescribing that were doing in Oregon is going down significantly, the overdose deaths have gone down significantly and that’s not true around the country,” Dr. Shames said. “In many states, they’re still trying to get a handle on it and turn things around.”

Although there has been significant improvement, Dr. Shames says there is still more work to be done.

The state is now seeing an increase in heroin and fentanyl overdoses.

Dr. Shames says the next steps to combating this issue is to look at better ways to protect people who choose to use drugs.

Some of the practices being used across the country to do this are syringe exchanges and safe injection sites.

There is also a drug called buprenorphine that can help treat people for addiction. Dr. shames says this drug should be readily available to treat people immediately who want to get help.



Blakely McHugh is co-anchor of NBC5 News at Sunrise and spokesperson for In This Together, a suicide prevention initiative. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Blakely is a native of San Diego, CA. Blakely is excited to be in southern Oregon, a place that gets all the seasons and has similar temperatures to Arizona in the summer! When she’s not at work, you can find her relaxing at home watching TV and cuddling with her cat, Dallas. She also enjoys trying new places to eat and exploring the outdoors. Blakely loves meeting new people so if you see her out and about, say “hi!”
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