Local leaders and non-profits aim to decrease fentanyl overdoses

MEDFORD, Ore.– Earlier this month, two inmates overdosed on fentanyl at the Jackson County Jail.

Fentanyl overdoses have been on the rise across the state.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, overdose deaths in Oregon increased by 41% compared to 16% for the rest of the country.

Max’s Mission, a non-profit based out of Medford wants to change that.

Seraphina Pinsky, Outreach Coordinator for Max’s Mission, said, “fentanyl has been like a whirlwind. It came, and it kind of hit us by surprise.”

The work that Max’s Mission does has taken on many forms, including harm reduction as well as education about the dangers of fentanyl.

“We give out waters at bars, wound care kits with band-aids and hand sanitizers, protective gear, masks, and it goes as far as to clean supplies,” Pinsky said.

The charity has also been distributing free naloxone and other supplies to help prevent overdose deaths.

Statewide, organizations like Oregon Health and Science University are also looking to slow down the rise of fentanyl overdoses.

Community health expert Honora Englander M.D. said, “every death is preventable and we can do better.”

The school held a round table Wednesday with community health leaders, school nurses and advocates.

The discussion aimed to promote awareness to protect young people across the state from the dangers of fentanyl.

Fentanyl is often disguised as other drugs and is 50 times more potent than heroin, increasing the risk of overdoses.

Advocate Jon Epstein said, “it is a counterfeiting and deception issue. You put those things together and you have a really lethal combination. These pills are everywhere. There’s a hockey stick of growth of these counterfeit pills and you can’t tell them apart.”

The round table called for more education for young people and their families, as well as more access to treatment.

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Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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