Clackamas County Public Health Advises Parents and Youth to be Aware of the Increased Dangers of Fake Pills and Fentanyl Poisoning

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Health officials report a sustained increase in overdoses driven largely by fentanyl found in illicit pills and powders

Today, the Clackamas County Public Health Division and local prevention partners issued a public health advisory to local parents to raise awareness of the increased prevalence and dangers of opioids and fentanyl. Teens and youth are specifically being targeted online, as social media platforms are increasingly used to buy and sell drugs, many of which are counterfeit. However, resources and support services are available through Clackamas County, local school districts and community organizations serving those at risk of substance use.

In Clackamas County, opioid overdose hospitalizations increased 18% from 2020 to 2021, and hospitalizations related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids more than doubled in that time. Oregon now ranks first in prescription opioid misuse and 50th in access to treatment, with 18% of Oregonians needing but not receiving treatment.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent and can make a person stop breathing within minutes. This drug has seen wide use by residents in the tri-county area and across the state—both intentionally through seeking fentanyl out, and unintentionally through taking a pill that was thought to be a prescription drug like Oxycontin or Xanax.

“There is not a certain type of person who is impacted by overdose from fake pills. It affects everyone,” said Philip Mason-Joyner, Clackamas County Public Health Director. “Parents and trusted adults should talk to teens about the dangers of fake pills and how to stay safe while online. Maintain open communication and remind youth that drugs or medications that are not taken as prescribed from a doctor or pharmacist could contain fentanyl and be very dangerous.”

Additionally, public health officials remind parents and community that Naloxone is available as a lifesaving drug that can reverse the effects of overdoses. Schools and organizations serving people at-risk of overdose can contact Clackamas County to request Naloxone Kits and be connected to additional resources.



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