Substance abuse treatment services in Portland have been falling short and not reaching as many residents who need to receive professional help.
Meanwhile, the number of people using illicit substances in Oregon’s largest city has been going up for more than a decade and the number of people dying of overdoses related to heroin is approximately the same as the number of people dying from conditions such as heart disease or cancer.
Medical reports released by officials of Multnomah County, where Portland is located, revealed that there was an increase of more than 140 percent in mortality associated with heroin use.
The director of county’s Health Department stated that drugs like heroin have been a critical problem in Portland because they are easily available and fairly inexpensive.
Low costs have also made methamphetamines increasingly popular in the area. And the problem of substance abuse has become even more aggravated because many locals began combining both heroin and methamphetamines.
Portland’s public health officials stated that the city estimates “80 or 90 percent of heroin users are also using methamphetamines.”
According to the latest data provided by the Police Bureau of the City of Portland, the number of drug-related arrests went up more than 21 percent from 2010 to 2014 – the majority of the arrests made were related to methamphetamine.
Push to prioritize addiction treatment
The lack of federal focus on addiction treatment hasn’t only pushed a surge in criminal activities but also contributed to a dramatic increase in the homeless population in Portland.
Considering how serious of a problem substance abuse has been in Portland and other parts of the state, the Oregon Legislature created an independent government agency – dubbed the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission – to focus strictly on improving local drug addiction treatment and prevention services.
But there’s one problem: the agency was created ten years ago but has yet to submit an official plan to the legislature on how it can improve substance abuse treatment programs. The commission has been failing to meet outline requirements consistently and consequently failing to prioritize addiction treatment services.
But an inclusive coalition made by people with substance use disorders in recovery programs located all over the state has emerged earlier this year, seeking to revolutionize Oregon’s approaches to preventing and treating addiction, in addition to providing support to the community.
The coalition highlighted that… (continue reading)