2016 Drug Trends in Portland
Infamously known as Heroin City, Portland, Oregon has become home to one of the deadliest drugs known to man. Heroin began its onslaught on the city as early back as the 1990s. Today, close to 8,000 people are admitted to rehab each year, and sadly many of them are below the age of 35.
Central City, one of Portland’s leading rehabilitation centers, reported that approximately 25% of their patients are less than 35 years old. In 2009 those statistics went up to 40%.
Portland is an ideal drug city because of its geographic location and well-serviced transportation system. This makes for a good distribution network for drug traffickers. This is why it is one of the major markets in the Oregon HIDTA area. Good air, road, and river transportation infrastructures have placed this city of nearly half a million residents square in the path of persistent traffickers.
The two biggest drugs that are causing major havoc in the city are crystal meth and heroin. Both have a good distribution network and are widely available. These two combined with cannabis, MDMA and crack cocaine make up the top 5 most commonly available drugs on the streets of Portland.
How People Are Getting Hooked Onto Drugs in Portland
The party scene, work pressure, and ease of availability all contribute to the drug scourge. Many people encounter drugs by chance at a club, through friends, at school or at work. Before they know it, the drug world has caught up with them and they are addicted. The average age for those who started experimenting with heroin was 23 in 2012. Not surprising when you consider that heroin costs a measly $20 for a dose. The ages for LSD, marijuana and crack cocaine are sadly much younger. The average person is about 18 when they are first introduced to weed, 19 when they first try LSD and 20 when they branch off into crack cocaine. This is according to research carried out by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Many people start heroin late, and that’s because it is one of the harder drugs to find. Of the teenagers interviewed in the SAMHSA survey, only 10% said they would be able to get their hands on heroin if they needed it. In the ten year period between 2002 and 2012, most drugs became hard to access. It was at this time that heroin stepped onto the scene and became a popular drug among users.
Drug use in Portland, especially the use of heroin, has been raised to ‘public health crisis’ status because of the large numbers of people who are now addicted. It has become an urgent and very important public health issue that can no longer just be handled by the local authorities.
Drug Overdose in Portland
The drug overdose death rate in the state of Oregon is 12.5 people per 100,000 inhabitants. Opioids have Portland’s drug departments worried because of the steady increase in the number of deaths associated with and linked to the drug. In the first six months of 2015, there were a total of 155 emergency calls put through for drug overdose to emergency services. This was a 15% increase since 2013.
Autopsies carried out on the bodies of those who died from drug overdose showed that heroin wasn’t the only drug responsible for the overdose. There was another substance mixed in with the heroin. That substance is fentanyl, another different kind of opioid. What many people don’t realize is that fentanyl is now being sold alongside heroin already mixed into it, to increase quantities. Hence the risk of overdosing is higher.
Overdose cases that had fentanyl as a leading causal agent rose from 10 in 2009 to 50 in 2015. Marcella Sorg, a research associate professor at the University of Maine has said that one of the biggest issues with fentanyl is that it is not the one sold from pharmacies, but rather one made in back alley laboratories by underground dealers.
The Fight against Drugs in Portland
The war against drugs in the city is real. In 2012, police seized 13,808 grams worth of cocaine. In the same year, 11,118 grams of heroin was also seized; 32,171 grams of meth, and 332, 916 grams of dried marijuana. A total of 200,030 ecstasy pills were also brought in from these police raids. Interestingly enough, in 2011, police had shut down 2 meth labs in the city, but no labs were shut down in 2012. In total, $16 million dollars’ worth of drugs and other materials used in the trafficking scheme were compounded by the police in 2012.