News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Fentanyl awareness on agenda

A national nonprofit organization released a new program on Tuesday, May 7, to help families navigate the hazards of fentanyl and prevent deaths of young people as Oregon continues to battle the lethal drug epidemic. 

Song for Charlie, a nonprofit focused on raising awareness about fake fentanyl pills, launched The New Drug Talk Oregon, an educational web-based platform with free information about the risks of fentanyl and the dangers of self-medication and experimentation. The program also gives families guidance on how to discuss the drug, which is highly lethal and commonly found in counterfeit prescription drugs and sold illegally. 

The campaign was one of several in Oregon to start on Tuesday and coincides with National Fentanyl Awareness Day. The Oregon Health Authority launched a five-week campaign to educate Oregonians about fentanyl risks, harm reduction strategies like fentanyl test strips, and how to respond to an overdose. The state’s campaign will unfold on the health authority’s English and Spanish-language Facebook accounts.

More than 300 young Oregonians 15 to 24 years old have died of drug overdoses in the last five years, many of them from fentanyl, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The rate of teen drug-related deaths has increased in the state nearly sixfold. 

Meanwhile, a survey of Oregon parents and youth commissioned by Song for Charlie found persistent gaps in how families are responding to the crisis. Nearly three-quarters of Oregon parents said they talked to their children about the dangers of prescription pills laced with fentanyl. But only about 40 percent of young people said they remember having this conversation.

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