Police Chief Reports Spike in Drug Overdoses in Portland

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Portland’s Police Chief at his Induction last September 2019.

Sharps Container Located at Entrance to East End Beach, Near Big Belly Solar Trashcan.

There have been seven fatal and 79 non-fatal overdoses since May 1, 2020 with one fatal and nine non-fatal overdoses just in the past week alone according to a press release issued by the Portland Police Department today.

“There have historically been upticks in overdoses here in the city at this time of the year,” said Police Chief Frank Clark,” but the recent spike and his number of overdoses and deaths over a 70 day period is disturbing and warrants public awareness and notification.

Narcan, an overdose-reversal drug, was administered in most of these non-fatal cases by ether first responders or lay people.  The spike in overdoses is troubling and at this time cannot definitely be linked to one specific substance.  Between 2008 and 2019, Portland had 373 deaths that were attributed to overdoses.  Overdoses in the city in 2019 were troublingly up 25% over 2018.

The city is also deeply concerned about the public health consequences of used hypodermic needles being left on the street, in parks and other public spaces, accessible to children and others.  In the same May 1 to present time period, the city has collected more than 1,000 needles left in and put of sharps containers on public property.  There are 20 community accessible sharps containers distributed throughout the city as an alternative option for safe disposal.  If anyone comes across discarded needles on public property, they are urged to call the city Public Works Department at 207 – 874-8493 or submit a See Click Fix service request so a trained member of city staff can pick up and dispose of the needles properly.

The city offers a certified needle exchange program, located at 103 India Street.  The Exchange offers a one-for-one syringe exchange service as well as referrals to local resources. Any non-certified exchange is cautioned against operating in the city.

Narcon is available at pharmacies without a prescription.  Sharps containers are located at Munjoy Hill Fire Station, inside, and at the entrance to the East End Bach, attached to the Big Belly solar trashcan.