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Addiction Services

The vast majority of Oregonians know someone struggling with addiction. Earlier this year, a close friend of mine lost that struggle and died from an overdose. His life was one of more than 2,000 lost this year to substance addiction.

It’s not that there aren’t ongoing efforts to help. It’s that those efforts are scattered throughout our communities with little coordination. And the result is people who need help just aren’t getting it.

The Secretary of State has the power to help vulnerable people by examining how we can make these efforts work.

Here is how I would do it.

Auditing Addiction Services:

Oregon is losing the war against deadly drugs and alcohol.

On average, five Oregonians die every day in alcohol-related deaths. Two die every day from drug overdoses. Two-thirds of Oregon prison inmates suffer from untreated addiction. Oregon has the fourth highest addiction rate in the country.

Drug and alcohol addiction contributes to homelessness, foster care problems, and mental health crises in our K-12 students. And yet, Oregon is sorely lacking a coordinated and integrated strategy to promote recovery.

When it comes to promoting addiction recovery, doing the right thing also makes financial sense. Portland-based Eco-Northwest estimates that untreated addiction costs taxpayers nearly $5.9 billion per year.

Background

The absence of a coordinated statewide plan to build a comprehensive addiction recovery continuum of care has kept many from accessing necessary aid.

While a few local communities have developed admirable addiction treatment services, support is lacking throughout the state. Services available in Hood River are unavailable in Pendleton. Private insurance plans sometimes offer addiction recovery services, but those benefits are dependent on various factors that are often inconsistent with specific care needs and availability. This is especially true for rural communities in Oregon.

We must address this crisis.

The Hass Proposal

As Secretary of State, I would order a full-scale audit to identify the gaps in the current continuum of care. We need to determine how public and private efforts can more efficiently invest in addiction recovery and reduce the human and financial costs of addiction.

The findings of this audit will create the foundation for a modern, statewide continuum of care.

Lost in all the statistics are people who are suffering and need treatment, broken families, lost lives, and tragedies that live on for generations. But people can and do recover from addiction, and it behooves us to support that recovery.

The Secretary of State has the power to help vulnerable people. We can do it. We must. Lives depend on it.

Eighty-five percent of Oregonians know someone who is struggling with addiction. Helping these people is not a partisan idea.

Fixing this enormous problem will not be easy or fast. It will take leadership. It starts with assessing the problem and building a foundation so that all Oregonians can lead healthy, productive lives.

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