U.S. Attorney joins panel at Mill Casino on drug crisis

Billy J. Williams

COOS COUNTY, Ore. - U.S. Attorney Billy Williams is on the south coast, joining a panel on the drug crisis at the Mill Casino at 6pm tonight.

It’s in response to the drug crisis in our state and in coos county.

"In Coos Bay we understand that there's been an increase in hospitalizations--a larger percentage of hospitalizations related to overdoses," Williams said.

The Oregon Health Authority reports an increase in opioid hospitalizations from 2010 to 2014, and that an average of 5 Oregonians die every week from opioid overdose.

"My dad was addicted to painkillers for about 50 years, before his death 6 years ago," Williams said. "He had a serious back injury in his early to mid 30's and he had a number of surgeries over the next, nearly 50 years, and once he started using pain medication, he was addicted to it."

While there was a slight decrease in over-prescribing opioids in coos county in the first half of this year, it's still higher than the state average.

the OHA also reports an increase in heroin and illicit fentanyl-related deaths

Detective Robert Scoville with the South Coast Interagency Narcotics team, or SCINT, said he has seen illicit drug presence on a local level.

"It's 50-50 methamphetamine and heroin that we're seizing in the operations that we're running."

Cam Strahm, assistant special agent with the DEA out of Portland, said 2018 data is not available yet, but it's looking positive.

"The numbers indicate in terms of overdose, that we are not continuing to climb as we had in the last 4 or 5 years," he said.

He said any instance of misuse is one too many.

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