PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Pacific Northwest has seen a sharp rise in fentanyl overdoses over the last year, and the isolation from the pandemic has only made things worse.

The drug can be lethal in tiny amounts. It can also be mixed in with other drugs, so most users don’t even know they are taking it.

Dr. Sarah Leitz from the Department of Addiction Medicine at Kaiser Permanente said the rise in substance abuse because of the pandemic is making things even more deadly.

“Certainly with the pandemic, the increasing stress, the increasing isolation that everyone’s been experiencing – people have been looking for coping strategies, finding enjoyment in other ways,” Dr. Leitz said. “I think that combined with the increasing prevalence of fentanyl making its way being trafficked in the area, the two together have been a deadly consequence.”

Dr. Leitz encourages people to talk to a loved one if they’re battling substance abuse and have them talk to a doctor. They can also reach out to crisis hotlines like Lines for Life here in Oregon.

She also suggests keeping Naloxone close at hand. The medication can quickly reverse an opioid overdose and help save someone who is overdosing on fentanyl.

To learn more about the life-saving treatment, people are urged to talk to their doctor about how to get a prescription for Naloxone.