Dr. Ray Stangeland spent more than 30 years as a doctor inside emergency rooms where he saw hundreds of cases of addiction cause immeasurable harm to patients and, in many cases, preventable death.
“I’ve seen so many people who have said they would like help, that they’re at the bottom, and I could not get them help,” Stangeland said. “I’ve had cases where I know people have come in asking for help who later died of an overdose, because just so often in Oregon services have not been available.”
The retired physician and Lake Oswego resident recently told Pamplin Media Group that he’s backing Measure 110, Oregon’s drug decriminalization and addiction treatment initiative that voters are currently considering on the 2020 ballot.
Come Nov. 3, Oregon could step away from a model that looks at drug use and addiction as a criminal justice issue. Instead, the new approach would divert criminal drug prosecutions to assessments that would triage the need for addiction treatment and help connect those struggling with addiction to a wide range of services and recovery options most appropriate for them. Possession of small amounts of drugs would be decriminalized. Funding for services would be provided by marijuana tax revenue, meaning that one couldn’t be denied care based on their insurance or lack thereof.
Across Clackamas County, professionals like Stangeland and others who have experience treating those suffering from addiction are throwing their support behind Measure 110. They’re advocating for this change not only as a more compassionate and fiscally effective way of treating drug and addiction related crime, but also as a major paradigm shift in how addiction is viewed by our society and de-stigmatizing asking for help
“I think we’re going to be able to provide services for addiction to assess, evaluate and educate in a way that we currently don’t have for many people,” Stangeland said. “It’s the right, humane thing to do. Our best care shouldn’t be based on one’s income or educational background.”