How effective was Oregon’s move to eliminate drugs?

Salem, Ore. (AP) – Two years after Oregon residents voted to de-identify difficult drugs and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on treatment, very few people requested services and the state was slow to allocate funds.

When voters cross the state vanguard Drug Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Act By 2020, the focus is on treatment as well as the nominal elimination of possession of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs for personal use.

But Oregon still has the highest addiction rate in the country. Fatal overdoses have increased by nearly 20% year-on-year, with more than a thousand deaths. More than half of them addiction treatment program in a state of incapacity to meet demand because they do not have enough staff and funds, according to testimony before lawmakers.

Advocates want more states to follow Oregon’s lead, saying decriminalization reduces addiction stigma and keeps drug users from going to jail and having criminal records filed. offense. How Oregon performs will almost certainly be taken into account if another state considers denomination.

Steve Allen, director of behavioral health for the Oregon Health Authority, acknowledged the rough start, even as he claims to have reached a “real milestone,” with more than $302 million sent to facilities to help people quit drug addiction, or at least use them more safely.

“The road to get here has not been easy. Oregon is the first state to try such a bold and transformative approach,” Allen told a state Senate committee Wednesday.

However, one expert has told lawmakers that the effort will be destroyed unless addicts are admitted to treatment.

“Without formal or informal pressure on addicts to seek treatment and recovery and thereby stop using drugs,” said Keith Humphreys, an addiction researcher and professor at Stanford. , we should expect that high rates of drug use, addiction and provider harm will continue. University and former senior adviser in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The health authority said that of the 16,000 people who had access to services in the first year of the initial phase, only 0.85% participated in treatment. A total of 60% received “harm reduction” such as syringe exchange and drug overdose. An additional 15% get help with housing needs and 12% get support from friends.

The Drug Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Act, also known as Proposition 110, has become a campaign issue this year as Republicans seek to wrest governorship from Democrats, who already hold it’s from 1987.

“I voted no on Proposition 110 because nominally eliminating hard drugs like heroin and meth was and is a terrible idea,” said GOP candidate Christine Drazan, who advocated the voter request. abolish it, say. “As expected, it has made our addiction crisis worse, not better.”

Non-aligned candidate Betsy Johnson, a veteran former MP, said she would work to repeal what she called a “failed experiment”.

Spokesperson for Democratic candidate Tina Kotek, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, said Drazan and Johnson “want to go against the will of the voters. … Oregonians don’t want to go backwards. “

“As governor, Tina will ensure that the state is doing what voters asked: expanding recovery services statewide,” said spokeswoman Katie Wertheimer.

By law, people will receive a ticket, with fines up to $100 waived if they call the hotline for a health assessment. But most of the more than 3,100 tickets issued so far have been ignored, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. Very few people have called the hotline.

Tera Hurst, executive director of the Oregon Health Justice Restoration Coalition, which is focused on implementing Proposition 110, said coercive treatment is ineffective. Hurst said it was important to focus on “just building a system of care to ensure that those who need access can be reached”.

Allen called the multimillion-dollar spending — coming from taxes on Oregon’s legal marijuana industry — a “crucial moment.”

“Prop 110 is underway and will provide vital services and support to people, families, and communities,” he told the Senate committee.

However, it will take time to use the funds to build services.

Manager Basilio Sandoval said Centro Latino Americano, a nonprofit serving Latino immigrant families, plans to use its $4.5 million stake to move treatment services to a larger space and hire more staff.

“Measure 110 makes it possible for us to provide this service for free,” says Sandoval. “This allows us to reach people we were previously unable to serve because of a lack of insurance.”

Scott Winkels, lobbyist for the Federation of Oregon Cities, said residents are running out of patience.

“People will need to see progress,” Winkels said. “If you live in a community where you are looking for needles, how many times do you need to see needles in a park before you lose your cool?”

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