Portland Overdose Deaths Have Climbed Nearly 50% This Year

Last year was already a record.

SW 5th Ave. and SW Washington St. Boots on pedestrian signal, SW 4th Ave. and SW Washington St., downtown Portland (Brian Burk)

The Portland Police Bureau released new data Tuesday morning showing a dramatic increase in fatal overdoses.

Last year, there were a record 158 overdose deaths in Portland. This year will almost certainly surpass that peak. There have already been 85, a 46% increase from this time last year, PPB spokesman Nathan Sheppard tells WW.

“Keep in mind that the numbers for this year are actually only preliminary because the medical examiner will continue to process toxicology reports that will only increase the number of deaths considered overdoses,” Sheppard adds.

Tuesday’s data release comes after a particularly lethal weekend on Portland’s streets in which the police investigated eight suspected overdoses. Six of those were due to fentanyl, the potent, cheap opioid that has driven a massive rise in overdoses across Oregon in recent years.

It’s easily mistaken for other powdered drugs, like cocaine, as police suspect happened in several of the recent cases. “Users are warned that there may be a batch of purported cocaine circulating on the street that is particularly dangerous to use,” the bureau said Sunday.

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