Opioid Overdose in Oregon
This 2022 report summarizes the burden of opiate and opioid overdose among Oregonians, as required by ORS 432.141. It describes progress and challenges in reducing opiate and opioid overdoses and related deaths in Oregon.
Opioids include prescription painkillers and illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl. Opioid misuse and overdose are an increasing health threat in Oregon. Despite progress in reducing prescription opioid misuse and overdose, challenges remain. They include recent increases in overdoses from illicit fentanyl and non-opioid drugs such as methamphetamine, which is often mixed with opioids. While prescription opioid deaths have decreased more than 50% since 2006, deaths from synthetic opioids (fentanyl) and heroin have increased dramatically in recent years.
This report describes trends in deaths from unintentional opioid and other types of overdoses, including those from fentanyl, and demographics of decedents. It includes data from two new sources and shows trends in opioid overdose emergency department and urgent care visits, hospitalizations, opioid prescriptions, and utilization of the Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, an important tool for clinicians to access information about drugs dispensed to patients to inform safe prescribing. The report describes OHA’s role in the many efforts underway to address the overdose crisis in Oregon.
Opioid Overdose in Oregon - 2022 (pdf)
Opioid Crisis in Oregon
Oregon, like the rest of the US, is experiencing an opioid crisis, involving misuse, abuse, overdose and death. Opioids include prescription painkillers and illicit drugs, such as heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. The types of drugs that most commonly cause overdose in Oregon have changed significantly in recent years. While the state has made notable progress in reducing misuse and overdoses related to prescription opioids, there have been significant increases in overdoses from fentanyl and from non-opioid drugs such as methamphetamine, which are often mixed with opioids. Nearly half of opioid-related overdose deaths in Oregon involve more than one drug and/or alcohol.
In 2020, the risk for unintentional drug overdose death was highest among people who are non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native, non-Hispanic Black, male, and people experiencing houselessness. Data from 2020 also indicates that mental illness and substance use disorder are common among people who die from unintentional overdose, yet few of these individuals were receiving treatment for mental health, substance use problems or substance abuse.
What OHA is Doing
The Oregon Health Authority aims to reduce the burden of opioid misuse and abuse through these key strategies:
- Increasing equitable access to harm reduction supplies such as naloxone kits, sterile syringes, and fentanyl test strips
- Supporting overdose response planning and coordination
- Increasing access to substance use disorder treatment, including medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD)
- Supporting safe and effective non-opioid pain management
- Providing tools and guidelines to support appropriate prescribing
Current Oregon data suggest that statewide strategies are making an impact:
- Prescription opioid overdose deaths continued to fall between 2016 and 2020.
- Registration with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) became mandatory for all Drug Enforcement Administration-licensed prescribers. Since then, the percentage of prescribers and pharmacists registered with the PDMP has remained high.
- Risky prescribing practices involving opioids have decreased substantially since 2018.
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