In November 2020, Oregon residents approved a measure to decriminalize all drugs. However, this was not the only drug and addiction-related story from Oregon. Here are the major substance use and addiction stories out of the state.
Oregon’s Drug Decriminalization Started in Portugal
Fifty-eight percent of Oregon voters in November 2020 approved Measure 110, which will decriminalize all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Under the law, which will take effect on February 1, 2021, possession of controlled substances would be reclassified from a misdemeanor to a violation with a $100 fine. The measure will also move millions in marijuana tax revenue to support addiction recovery.
Oregon’s new approach aims to focus on diversion and harm reduction for drug use, saving the punitive measures for drug trafficking. This was based on Portugal’s model, which decriminalized hard drugs in 2001. Individuals caught using drugs recreationally are sent to a commission of health and legal experts who evaluate the person and may refer them to voluntary treatment. These changes helped reduce drug-related fatalities, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) reported.
Lane County, Oregon Sheriff’s Office Receives Grant for Inmate Substance Abuse Treatment
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon has received a three-year Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Site-based Program grant, distributed through the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The office plans to use these funds for the Lane County Jail Substance Abuse and Transition Program.
This program will provide medication-assisted treatment to 20 inmates per month, and education and counseling to another 100 inmates. The program especially targets those individuals with at least two substance use-related jail bookings annually. This may help “to increase their chances of sobriety and reduce their chances of returning to jail,” said Lane County Sheriff Cliff Harrold.
Overdose Fatalities Increase in Oregon
Following similar trends across the country, Oregon saw a nearly 40-percent increase in overdose fatalities in 2020. While most of these deaths involve opioids, other deaths involved methamphetamines and the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Health authorities note that many individuals who already struggle with substance misuse are struggling with social, financial, and health disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic
To try to reduce overdose deaths, the state is distributing naloxone and using real-time surveillance data to make immediate responses to sudden death increases. The state is also providing methadone to patients through opioid treatment providers.
Grants Pass, Oregon Initiative Aims to Help With Addiction
Grants Pass, Oregon Lieutenant Dennis Ward has launched a new initiative, called “A New Way Home,” that aims to take on substance misuse, addiction, and drug-related fatalities. The initiative is based partly on a program started in Massachusetts called Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PARRI).
The nonprofit Options for Southern Oregon will work with the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety on the new initiative. Under this program, individuals who struggle with addiction and are in possession of a controlled substance are invited to come to the police department and ask for help. They can do so without the fear of getting arrested.
Legislative changes, increased substance misuse, and the rising demand for behavioral health services could create major challenges for addiction treatment providers in Oregon. Make sure your practice is prepared for the demands with the right clinical and business tools. BestNotes EHR software was designed with you in mind, tailored specifically for the needs of behavioral health practices. Contact us today to schedule a free demo or ask questions about our solutions.