Fentanyl, Methamphetamine leading to accelerating opioid epidemic

SOUTHERN OREGON, —We’ve learned in recent years, how dangerous fentanyl can be. Now, A new study says methamphetamine use, In rural communities, is also a big problem. The 2 are even being combined.

AllCare Health says the overdose epidemic in the US is accelerating. Research shows the potentially deadly fentanyl in opioids is partly responsible.

What was first prescription pills, then heroin, has now become fentanyl. Experts are calling it the third wave of the opioid epidemic. Ben Westhoff is an award-winning journalist who covers culture, poverty, and drugs.

“Now there is almost no pure heroin it’s all cut with fentanyl, that’s the third wave of the opioid epidemic,” said Westhoff.

He’s the featured speaker at a Medford event Friday, dubbed Focus on Fentanyl.

“Now the problem is that fentanyl is also cut into these other drugs, in fact, any pill or any powder you get on the black market could have fentanyl from cocaine to heroin to meth to even fake prescription pills that are pressed to look like a Percocet or Xanax,” said Westhoff.

AllCare Health in southern Oregon says the impact of the drug can be devastating.

“Fentanyl is 50 times as potent than heroin its fast-acting and long-lasting, associated with vocal cord and airway closure and rapid death,” said Ryan Bair, VP of Behavioral Services at AllCare.

A 2022 study published in the journal of the American Medical Association, surveyed 3,048 people in Oregon and nine other states. It discovered 79% of all drug users in rural areas used methamphetamine within the prior 30 days. Researchers also say that highly potent fentanyl is now regularly found as an additive in meth.

“The reality is the inherent dangers of methamphetamine are significantly increased when you add an additive or adulteration like fentanyl,” said Bair.

Here in the Rogue Valley, Max’s Mission works to spread knowledge and use of Naloxone or Narcan, to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.

Friday its hosting Focus on Fentanyl, to share about how the opioid epidemic has impacted southern Oregon. Saturday is southern Oregon overdose awareness day. Max’s Mission will be remembering those who have overdosed and providing resources available to those in need,

“Try to get rid of some of the stigmas that surround overdose, so many people don’t talk about to their friends and we know this is something that lives out and we want you to come out and feel that you can share,” said Julia Pinsky, Executive Director of Max’s Mission.

Friday’s fentanyl-focused event is at the Merrick, from 1 to 4:30. Saturday’s overdose awareness event is at Hawthorne park from 2 to 5.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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