‘People are dying’: New campaign launched amid rise in fentanyl deaths

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the rise of illicit fentanyl, drug-related overdoses and deaths have reached deadly highs in Oregon.

Crystal Long is a self-proclaimed former fentanyl addict. After battling addiction for several years, Long said she found success in her court-ordered recovery program. Now 18 months clean, she is using her voice to warn others about the substance she says almost killed her.

“People are dying. I’ve had five of my close friends pass away in the last couple years due to fentanyl because they didn’t know what they had,” she said, adding “They left children behind.”

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller that’s 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, and according to the CDC, its use is on the rise. Oregon alone saw an almost 70% increase in overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020.

Meanwhile, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is launching a new campaign called “One Pill Can Kill” to highlight the dangers of fentanyl.

“It only takes 2 milligrams of fentanyl to kill somebody and that’s a very, very small amount,” WSCO Sgt. Danny DiPietro said. “That can fit on the tip of a pencil. So you don’t know what you’re getting, and if by chance that fake pill was mixed with a high dose of fentanyl, literally one pill can kill.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the Alcohol and Drug Helpline can offer resources and support at 800-923-4357. The Oregon Health Authority also has resources about using Naloxone, also known as Narcan, to rescue someone from an opioid overdose.

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