ROSEBURG, Ore. – According to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), three people die in Oregon every day from prescribed opioid use. Many more will develop opioid addiction.
Douglas County has seen an increase of overdose deaths since 2000, which could be from an increase amount of opioid prescriptions.
Christin Depner, Program Specialist for Douglas Public Health Network said the amount of overdose deaths in Douglas County for all opioids was 23 from 2011-2013 and 21 from 2014-2016. There were nine deaths from heroin overdoses and 11 deaths from pharmaceutical opioids in 2014-2016.
“Drug overdoses are really a big problem. When it kills more people than car wrecks, when it kills more people than gun violence, we've got to pay attention and we've got to go ahead and reverse this trend,” said Dr. Dannenhoffer.
Dannenhoffer’s statement comes from a New York Times study that said drug overdose deaths most likely exceeded 59,000 in 2016, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States.
He said some of their initiatives to combat the opioid crisis are:
- Decrease the amount of narcotics prescribed by working with doctors and dentists to use non-opioid drugs and to limit the size of prescriptions
- Work with the community on drug take-backs
- Increase the availability of naloxone
- Increase the use of the practitioner data bank to address patients who overuse
- Make medication-assisted therapy available
ADAPT’s Opioid Treatment Program began in Roseburg in March 2017. Paul Robertson, the program supervisor, said they currently have 110 patients.
This is how the program works - Patients show up to the clinic every day between 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. to take a daily dose of medication that treats the opioid addiction (either suboxone, subutex, or methadone). The clinic manages the medication and it allows patients to perform daily functions.
“You don't get high from these medications. You also can't use other illicit drugs while you're on these medications because they have a blocking effect,” said Robertson.
The medication is also paired with counseling services. After working in this line of work for the last seven years, Robertson said this treatment allows his patients to become stabilized and free themselves from the destruction caused by opioid addiction.
“What's great about these medications is that they allow that person to feel what it's like to live life normally. What it's like to be a clean and sober person,” said Robertson.
One of his patients is Nicole Felkins. She’s a Douglas County native, who started using drugs when she was 16. Since then, she has been in and out of jail, lost her husband to an overdose, had her kids taken away by DHS, and grew distant from her family.
“I never thought anything could take ahold of me like it did,” said Felkins.
She was one of the first patients to join ADAPT’s new Opioid Treatment Program in Roseburg after it started eight months ago. She said she’s been in and out of treatment half of her life and this is the first time she’s made this much progress.
“This is the first time I've ever had 220 days clean and sober without being locked up or in prison or in a residential. And that feels amazing,” said Felkins.
Felkins is a success story of the ADAPT program. She is living in her own apartment, in the process of getting her children back, and will be enrolling in school to work in human services.
“I'm doing good enough in my life that people want me to talk about it. Anyone who's known where I was, what I've done, and the hurt that I've caused among other people…know what I'm doing now is huge, “said Felkins.
Robertson said the program is showing to be effective and it’s also cost-effective.
“To do a detox program, it's usually about $1000 a day for a person to be in detox. For a person struggling with opioid withdrawal, that can last up to two weeks. To dose somebody here at ADAPT everyday once they've stabilized, we're talking four cents a day,” said Robertson.
Dannenhoffer said Douglas County holds community meetings to discuss the opioid crisis. They also train people on how to use naloxone, a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses.
For more information on opioid addiction resources and preventative measures, click here.