Deaths in Oregon from the use of methadone, a narcotic painkiller and heroin substitute, have quadrupled in four years, health officials told the Oregonian.
The rising toll reflects a sharp increase in use and abuse of the low-cost opiate by chronic pain patients, they say.
Last year, 103 Oregonians died of methadone-related causes, compared with 23 in 1999. That is more deaths than caused by any other narcotic, including heroin.
“We’re seeing essentially a mini-epidemic of methadone deaths,” said one medical expert.