JACKSON COUNTY, Ore.– Jackson County Public Health remains on red alert after a recent spike of fatal and non-fatal overdoses. The county issued the alert Saturday and expect it to continue throughout the week.
Meanwhile, a coordinated effort by the county, law enforcement and groups like Max’s Mission are doing what they can to help save lives. County health officials are not sure what may be causing these overdoses. However, they have pinpointed heroin as a possible suspect.
It’s believed what’s currently circulating could be very potent or laced with fentanyl. Regardless of what it is law enforcement and the county want everyone to be safe.
“What we’re seeing is sometimes they need more than one dose of naloxone because the first dose isn’t working,” said Tanya Phillips, program manager of Jackson County Public Health.
In the span of 24 hours, Jackson County witnessed spikes in the number of fatal and non-fatal overdoses. According to county public health, on December 20 alone eight people were admitted to the hospital. One person also died from a suspected heroin overdose. From what the county has seen, Phillips says the potency of the drugs in circulation is much stronger than normal with naloxone not always being enough.
The suggestion the health department has for those affected is to try and not use any illicit opioids.
“Our number one recommendation would be to not use it just because what we’re seeing is people who are using it are experiencing an overdose,” said Phillips.
The county says it’s data just skims the surface of what may be happening in the larger community. Phillips says many cases go unreported due to the stigma of calling 911 and fearing they’ll be charged with a crime.
However, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office says because of the Good Samaritan Law you should always call in an emergency.
“We don’t encourage the use obviously but we do encourage people to seek help and if we can help them by surviving an episode I think that’s an ideal situation,” said Mike Moran, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.
The county says if people are admitted to the hospital they will be provided resources to help find treatment. That’s why naloxone is being passed out, to immediately combat the effects of an overdose.
“I have seen family that has had problems and OD’d,” said Donna Moseley, a former resident of Jackson County. Moseley says she’s back in town visiting and came across a recent mobilization by Max’s Mission at Alba Park.
It’s the first time she’s ever carried naloxone with her but with recent circumstances in her family, she likes having this option to potentially save a life. But she hopes it doesn’t come to that.
“I just hope everybody has a great holiday and a safe holiday and love each other and be kind,” she said.
In total, Jackson County witnessed nine hospital admissions for overdoses from December 15 – 21. County health officials say things have appeared to have slowed down but the red alert will remain in effect.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse you can call the Jackson County Health Department for help or Max’s Mission to receive naloxone.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.