If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20-plus years of helping people with drug addiction, it’s that when someone is ready for treatment, it’s so important they can access it right then, on-demand, the moment they decide they’re ready for help. Unfortunately in Oregon, too often there isn’t treatment available. They are put on a wait list for weeks, or even months. Sometimes people die while waiting for that treatment spot to open.
As a drug and alcohol counselor, it’s hard for me to tell someone in crisis that they have to wait for a spot. They’re already hanging on by a thread, and it’s heart-wrenching when I have little to nothing to offer them.
This isn’t something unique to my experience working in Eastern Oregon; it’s a common scenario for any drug counselor in Oregon. One in 10 Oregonians is addicted to drugs, yet our state ranks nearly last in access to basic drug treatment. It’s hard to not see the connection between the lack of available care, and the fact that one to two Oregonians dies every day from drug overdoses.
This November, we have a chance to address this crisis and save lives by voting Yes on Measure 110.
Measure 110 will greatly expand access to drug treatment and recovery services throughout the state, using funds from Oregon’s existing marijuana tax. Measure 110 will make treatment available on-demand so that when someone reaches out for help, the hand of recovery will be reaching back. As part of this shift to a health-based approach to addiction, Measure 110 will also remove criminal penalties for low-level drug possession. That means, should Measure 110 become law, when someone needs help for their addiction, they’ll be offered treatment instead of being sent to jail for possession of a small amount of drugs.