My Voice: Eastern Oregon residents need measure 110, health-oriented addiction approach

October 3, 2020

As a lifelong resident of rural Oregon, I know all too well how many people in our region are affected by drug addiction. Addiction knows no bounds and strikes people regardless of where they live, their age, background or community status.

It’s not just our community. In fact, one in 10 Oregonians is addicted to drugs and one to two people die daily in our state due to an overdose.

This is why I am a strong supporter of Measure 110. We in Eastern Oregon particularly are in dire need of expanded services for addiction recovery. This measure would provide that. It will greatly expand access to drug treatment and recovery services throughout the state. Anyone who wants services will be able to get them, not just those who have the funds or the “right” insurance.

Throughout my life, I’ve known many people struggling with substance use disorders — adolescents, family, friends and neighbors. Resources for recovery for far too many people didn’t exist or were inaccessible. I’ve attended more than my share of funerals due to drug overdoses that could, and should, have been prevented.

Now that I am a family nurse practitioner, I’ve seen patients held in the same grip of drugs.

One of the things many people struggling with addiction have in common is a desire to break the cycle, yet they don’t know where to turn, and neither do many of those to whom they turn for help.

I’ve dealt with this firsthand as a health care provider, seeking access to recovery for patients ready to beat their addiction. Finding a spot in a drug treatment program immediately is next to impossible. It doesn’t help that Oregon ranks nearly last of all states in the availability of drug treatment. Wait lists often are weeks — and sometimes months — long.

When people with addiction must wait, many revert to problematic drug use. The longer the wait, the more at-risk they are of overdosing. When people know how scarce resources are, many choose to not seek help at all. Others can’t bear the shame the senseless stigma of addiction carries.

 

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