Portland --- Oregon Senator Ron Wyden today released a report detailing the consequences of underfunding treatment and prevention programs for opioid addiction in Oregon and nationwide.
Earlier this year, Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA), which provided a framework to address the epidemic of opioid addiction, but failed to provide the funding states like Oregon need to expand treatment capacity.
"Sadly, Oregonians are no strangers to the human toll of drug use and addiction devastating families and communities,” Wyden said. “I’m extremely disheartened that Congress has closed up shop yet again without acting on its core promise to provide essential funding for proven opioid addiction treatment and prevention efforts. Until states receive real investments in these programs, Congress has failed its job. Families in Oregon and across the country deserve far better.”
The report comes as Congress has taken an extended recess without providing anywhere near sufficient money to fund addiction treatment and prevention programs. The report covers two key challenges: the lack of available treatment facilities and services across the country, and the barriers people face even when treatment facilities or services are available.
The report also provides five case studies of states with high rates of opioid addiction, including Oregon. It is estimated that only 1 in 10 Oregonians suffering from drug addiction is receiving the treatment they need, while the remaining 90 percent lack access to proper care.
“Today’s report from Senator Wyden reinforces that Congress has talked enough and the time to tackle the opioid crisis is now,’’ said Lines for Life CEO Dwight Holton. “The longer we wait to fund treatment for opioid addiction, the more lives we lose - and the more families who must cope with the havoc of this health crisis.”
If more funding were provided, it would help states like Oregon battle the opioid epidemic, by allowing them to establish additional treatment centers, to provide life-saving anti-overdose medication, and to train medical personnel to increase the number of those being treated.
Oregon has one of the highest rates of prescription painkiller misuse in the entire country with an estimated 120,000 Oregonians suffering from opioid addiction disorder between 2010 and 2014. The opioid epidemic is also putting additional strain on rural communities which have limited ability to treat mental health and substance abuse.
“Last year, opioid overdose killed an average of three people in the Portland Tri-county area every week and the antidote, Naloxone, saved another dozen at the last minute,’’ said Dr. Paul Lewis, Multnomah County and Tricounty Health Officer. “Since 2013, our progress in preventing fatal overdose has stalled. Sadly many people suffering from addiction want treatment, but can’t get it.’’
If Congress funded the White House’s full request, Oregon would be eligible to receive $11 million to provide access to rehabilitation and treatment for Oregonians suffering from opioid addiction disorder.
The link to the entire report is http://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/101116%20Opioid%20Treatment%20Gap%20Report%20Final.pdf