Opioid Overdose in Oregon
This 2021 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.
OHA 2479 Opioid Overdose in Oregon - 2021 (pdf)
Oregon Opioid Taper Guidelines Task Force
In recent years evidence has made clear the risks and harms of long-term opioid use driven by overprescribing. Oregon Health Authority has been at the forefront of transforming prescribing practices, in part by convening task forces to develop guidelines and best practices to encourage safe prescribing and pain management across the health system. However, OHA recognizes that little is known about how best to help long-term opioid patients taper while honoring individual needs, addressing pain and preserving trust.
OHA has convened experts on the Oregon Opioid Taper Guidelines Task Force. The resulting guidelines from this task force will supplement the Opioid Prescribing Guidelines for Chronic Pain to help patients and prescribers approach opioid tapering with best practices in mind.
Opioid Crisis in Oregon
Oregon, like the rest of the US, is experiencing an opioid crisis, involving misuse, abuse, overdose and death. This crisis involves both prescription opioid pain medications, as well as illicit opioids such as heroin and non-pharmaceutical fentanyl. Oregon has one of the highest rates of misuse of prescription opioids in the nation.
An average of 5 Oregonians die every week from opioid overdose. Heroin contributes to a significant number of overdose deaths, and illicit fentanyl-related deaths are increasing dramatically. Many overdose deaths involve multiple drugs, including both pharmaceutical and illicit opioids. Many more Oregonians develop opioid use disorder and/or dependency.
What OHA is Doing
The Oregon Health Authority aims to reduce the burden of opioid misuse and abuse through these key strategies:
- Supporting safe and effective non-opioid pain management
- Increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and
- Decreasing the number of pills in circulation through appropriate prescribing
- Collecting and reporting data to inform policy
Current Oregon data suggest that statewide strategies are making an impact:
- Prescription opioid overdose deaths decreased 45% between 2006 and 2016.
- Opioid overdose hospitalizations have slightly increased.
- Prescriptions for opioids have been steadily declining over several years.
Publications and GuidelinesData DashboardHeal Safely CampaignPrescription Drug Monitoring Program
Reverse Overdose Oregon campaign
The Oregon Health Authority has a
campaign to help employers reverse opioid overdoses.
Reverse Overdose Oregon marks the latest in Oregon’s ongoing efforts to address the opioid epidemic through direct, comprehensive interventions.