By BRYCE DOLE The Bulletin | Jan 8, 2023 Updated Jan 8, 2023

Drug overdose deaths in Central Oregon have increased for three consecutive years, a crisis that regional law enforcement and paramedics say is driven by the highly addictive and potentially lethal drug fentanyl.

At least 29 people in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties died from drug overdoses in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, according to figures released by the Oregon Health Authority in December. That’s roughly 70% higher than 2019, when 17 people reportedly died from drug overdoses.

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