NEWS RELEASE: Public warned of spike in heroin overdoses

July 20, 2017

Contact: Julie Sullivan-Springhetti, Multnomah County Communications Office, 503-502-2741

NEWS RELEASE: Public warned of spike in heroin overdoses

The Multnomah County Health Officer is warning of a recent spike in heroin overdoses concentrated in downtown Portland. Emergency providers and police reported an increase beginning Wednesday, July 19.

No deaths have been reported. If you think someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 and give naloxone if you can.

“We know opiates are a problem in our region and are claiming too many lives,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, deputy health officer for Multnomah County. “Preventing or reversing an overdose may be the first step in getting someone the help they need for their addiction.”

Anyone who uses heroin or may be at risk of returning to using heroin is advised:

  • Abstaining from drug use is the best way to eliminate overdose risk.
  • Don’t use alone.
  • Don’t mix heroin with alcohol or pills.
  • Carry naloxone and have an overdose plan.
  • Know that it may take more than two doses of naloxone to reverse an overdose.
  • Be extra careful if someone has stopped using heroin for a while (like jail, detox, hospital, or you just cut back yourself) because your tolerance level may have changed and you may want to use a smaller amount.
  • Consider getting some help. Call 1-800-923-HELP for free, confidential, alcohol/drug counseling and treatment referral.

Naloxone is a drug given by injection or nasal spray to reverse an overdose. It is increasingly available in the community as part of the efforts to prevent death from overdose.

Multnomah County is working on getting more naloxone to its local syringe exchange sites. Naloxone is free to clients of syringe exchange.

Naloxone is available through pharmacies in Oregon without a prescription. Call your pharmacy ahead of time to make sure they have it. A package of two doses typically costs about $150.

For more information please contact: Multnomah County Health Department, 503-988-3030.