The state of Oregon has not been immune to the effects of addiction, including the nationwide opioid crisis. Here is the addiction news making headlines in Oregon.
Oregon Has the Fewest Opioid Overdoses
According to Dr. Jim Shames, medical director for Jackson County, Ore., the state now has the fewest opioid overdoses in the nation. At the same time, however, he points out that there is an increase in heroin and fentanyl overdoses.
Dr. Shames credits several factors with the reduction in opioid overdoses. Oregon has been advocating naloxone training to help limit the effects of overdose. He also notes collaboration among numerous agencies, including the Oregon Health Authority and the Centers for Disease Control, and between lawmakers and healthcare providers.
Oregon’s Medicaid Program Considers Cutting Off Opioids
In the first proposal of its kind, Oregon state officials are considering an end to opioid medication coverage for patients with chronic pain enrolled in Oregon’s Medicaid program. Under this policy, patients enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program who receive opioids for chronic pain would see their doses tapered off to zero over 12 months, starting in 2020. This includes patients who may not show any signs of addiction.
Officials have not disclosed how many individuals would fall under the proposal, but Oregon’s Medicaid covers about 1 million patients. Across the United States, about 10 percent of adults experience chronic pain, defined as having pain every day for the previous three months.
Supporters say this change could help reduce the risk of addiction and overdose. Many patients, however, are already protesting the proposal, arguing that opioids have helped them manage their pain when nothing else worked. Some experts question whether it is really less dangerous for patients to be forced off of opioid use than to depend on them for chronic pain.
Correctional Facility in McMinnville Tries Medication-Assisted Program
Yamhill County Correctional Facility (YCCF) is piloting a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program designed to help inmates struggling with addiction. YCCF has partnered with the Willamette Valley Comprehensive Treatment Center, a substance abuse facility, to provide these services.
Under the program, MAT and other substance-abuse services are available for any inmate processed through YCCF. Sheriff Tim Svenson and Captain Richard Geist of the YCCF initialized the program earlier this year, and received approval from the Oregon Health Authority.
Under Pilot Program, Portland Library Offers Naloxone Training
Multnomah County Library in Portland this summer launched a pilot program to provide naloxone training to the managers of five libraries. Managers are learning to administer the drug to help reverse the effects of opioid overdose. Under the program, participating locations are able to provide naloxone in spray form.
According to Shawn Cunningham, director of communications and strategic initiative for Multnomah County Library, problems within a community are likely to manifest in public places like libraries. This could make libraries a key location for targeting opioid misuse and getting faster help to individuals who may overdose.
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