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Deschutes Co. Health Director Speaks Out About Deadly Drug Overdoses

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County officials worry about a recent spike in deadly drug overdoses. "We went from an average of 2.5 a month, to four in the last month," says County Health Services Director Janice Garceau, "So, that’s enough for us to say we want to make the community aware that there may be some increased risk." She tells KBND News it wasn't just a monthly increase, "The four overdose fatalities occurred within a six-day period."

Garceau says all were opioid-related and suspected to be linked to fentanyl use. KBND asked Garceau if all of the victims were from the homeless community. "That is one of the stereotypes about the people who are struggling with addiction is that they are all unhoused. In fact," she says, "In this instance, the folks recently who passed were - the majority of them were housed."

She urges addicts to not use alone, and to carry several doses of the overdose reversal drug Narcan, which is widely available. "We often hear people talk about, ‘Well, you know, people are making choices to use. And so the consequences are really the result of that choice.’ And what I would say is, if I had a child and they were out there using, I would want somebody to care about them enough to keep them alive long enough to have a chance to make a good choice." Garceau adds, "If people are dead, no more choices. So our goal is to keep people alive, to build relationships, to connect them to resources when they’re open to that."

It's also "alarmingly easy," according to Garceau, to mix fentanyl with other, seemingly less dangerous drugs. "A young person who might be engaging in experimental use and buys a pill off of someone who’s an acquaintance, may have absolutely no idea that pill contains fentanyl." And then, she says, they get hooked. 

Resources are available for addicts and their families looking for help. Click HERE for more information. Deschutes County’s Stabilization Center is open 24 hours; crisis services are also available by dialing 988.


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