Opioids in Oregon: It's not just a plague in the Rust Belt states

Opioids in Oregon: It's not just a plague in the Rust Belt states

Oregon is fighting the opioid plague with "community paramedics" and legal marijuana.

Think the deadly opioid epidemic is just raging in the Rust Belt? Think again.

Prosperous and progressive Oregon had a 5.1 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending April 3, according to provisional figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Oregon has one of the highest rates of prescription opioid misuse in the nation; more drug poisoning deaths involve prescription opioids than any other type of drug, including alcohol, methamphetamines, heroin and cocaine," the Oregon Health Authority states clearly on its website.

Three Oregonians die every week from prescription opioid overdose, it says.

The pattern in Oregon appears to be similar to that in the really hard-hit states, like West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania — addiction to prescription painkillers frequently drives people to heroin (often laced with fentanyl) and, for too many, death.

In some neighborhoods in north Portland, which is the state’s biggest city, the crunch of needles underfoot has become a sad and not unfamiliar sound. And it’s a plague that doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor.

“Some people have lost everything,” Dr. Rachel Solotaroff of Central City Concern, a nonprofit in Portland dedicated to fighting homelessness that also helps addicts get back on their feet, told NBC Nightly News. “They had jobs, families, master’s degrees.”

Watch the report below.


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