Oregon, like many other states, has an opioid problem. It’s taking a broad approach to improving the situation, with everything from a prescription drug monitoring program to increasing treatment options. Its latest effort is Reverse Overdose Oregon, a project that aims to teach Oregonians how to respond if they believe someone is suffering an overdose.
As part of the program the Oregon Health Authority is mailing some 8,000 drug overdose kits to businesses in 16 counties, including Deschutes.
The kits contain almost everything a person needs to help someone who has overdosed.
What they don’t include is naloxone, the drug that can almost immediately reverse the effects of opioids and doesn’t do any damage if the person’s problem turns out to be something other that an overdose. Purchasing the drug is being left up to the businesses that receive the kits, and the price can vary, from as little as $20 to more than $100.
Businesses should spend the money. The drug is available without a prescription at some pharmacies in Bend, Redmond and La Pine, including Walgreen, Rite Aid and Costco.
Oregon leads the nation in the rate at which people in the state aged 55 and older overdose on opioids, with some 97 deaths in that age group in 2017, the last year for which statistics are available. That’s bad enough. Worse is this: Those 55 and older accounted for the largest number, 97, of opioid deaths in the state that year, according to Kaiser Family Foundation.
Naloxone can help change that figure, as OHP wants Oregonians to understand. Its Reverse Overdose website includes training videos for those who purchase the naloxone nasal spray or the injectable drug. The videos are short and easy to understand, and well worth watching.
Even if you don’t receive a free overdose kit from the state, you can purchase naloxone on your own. If you know someone who you suspect is abusing opioids, it might be wise to have one and to watch the training video so you don’t freeze if you think it’s time to use one.