PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new form of fentanyl that is reportedly more potent than the typical pressed pill was recently found in Portland, causing officials to sound the alarm.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office says their Special Investigations Unit found four grams of what is often referred to as “rainbow fentanyl” while serving a search warrant at a Northeast Portland residence recently — along with body armor, $5,000 in cash, nine guns, meth, heroin and 800 pills of fentanyl.
The rainbow fentanyl is powdered, multi-colored and “more dangerous,” according to MCSO.
“I’ve never experienced the amount of use that I’m seeing now and in this community,” a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office sergeant, who wished to remain anonymous, told KOIN 6. “This is the most prolific use that I’ve ever experienced and I’ve been doing drug enforcement for in excess of 10 years.”
In a release on Tuesday, county health officials say the rise of powdered fentanyl use — and its brightly colored variations — is cause for concern. They say this form of the drug is new to most law enforcement agencies and recovery treatment providers.
“We are partnering with Multnomah County health departments to sound the alarm,” SIU Sergeant Matt Ferguson said in the release. “The public needs to be aware of the rising use of powdered fentanyl. We believe this is going to be the new trend seen on the streets of Portland.”
Fentanyl in powder form generally has a higher potency, according to the release. Officials say non-medical grade fentanyl has overtaken both heroin and meth as the top drug threat in the region.
The rainbow fentanyl found during MCSO’s search reportedly resembles sidewalk chalk. Deputies say they are concerned about kids mistaking it for candy or a toy due to its coloring.
Health officials say it only takes 2 milligrams of fentanyl to cause a fatal overdose. That’s about the same weight as a few grains of salt.
Signs of overdose include:
- Pale or clammy skin
- Bluish or pale lips and fingernails
- Limp body
- Slow or no breathing
- Vomiting or foaming at the mouth
- Difficult to or not able to awaken
Naloxone, often known by the brand name Narcan, is a nasal spray that reverses an opioid overdose. The medication is available by prescription, but a growing number of county needle exchange clinics and nonprofit groups are providing it for free as fentanyl overdoses continue to skyrocket across the state.
Oregon is also working in partnership with school districts to provide more education on fentanyl and Narcan. Some school districts like Oregon City and West Linn are also keeping it on hand.
Furthermore, there are harm reduction clinics run by several counties where you can get Narcan, and other resources such as the nonprofit Need 4 Narcan. Multnomah County has also released a video on how to administer Naloxone to reverse an opiate overdose.
Anyone who uses illicit drugs can also get free fentanyl test strips and naloxone kits through Multnomah County Harm Reduction. Learn more at multco.us/harmreduction.