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Think Out Loud

Heroin Overdoses

Pete Springer/OPB

Death by heroin overdoses spiked to 143 in 2011. That’s up from the last time we looked into Oregon’s heroin overdose deaths. The state medical examiner attributes this increase to heroin’s prevalence and low cost. According to a recent Portland Tribune article, many addicts turn to the black market to buy dope because doctors must conduct physical, mental and addiction assessments before prescribing pain medication.

Experts are discovering that heroin is easy to find in Portland. It took one undercover reporter a few hours of tracking it down before he had a baggie in his hand.

A Multnomah County prosecutor says the current system isn’t working. He wrote a bill aimed at reducing overdoses by classifying heroin addicts as mentally ill. The legislature would have required that addicts undergo treatment to avoid prison. The bill died in committee last session but will be re-introduced. Disability Rights Oregon and the ACLU of Oregon opposed the bill.

Has heroin affected you, your family or your community? What is your reaction to the numbers revealing a spike in deaths by overdose? Have you tried to buy heroin in Oregon? What did you find?


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OPB | Broadcast: May 24, 2012