As someone who’s lived most of my life in Eastern Oregon, I know we here in Umatilla County are not escaping the public health crisis of opioid addiction and other drugs. One in 10 Oregonians is addicted to drugs and nearly two people die every day from drug overdose in Oregon.
There aren’t enough treatment beds available in our state to send patients who need and want to recover — in fact, our state ranks nearly last in access to drug addiction treatment.
On top of this, the way our systems are set up to handle addiction isn’t working. Many people who are addicted to drugs have to deal with criminal charges instead of figuring out how to get help for their health problem. This is because Oregon has criminalized low level possession of drugs, which only makes things worse for the person with the addiction and costs taxpayers a lot of money.