State Can Reduce the Costs of Substance Abuse

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), May 31, 2006 | Go to article overview

State Can Reduce the Costs of Substance Abuse


Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Michael Weinstein For The Register-Guard

Last January, the Governor's Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse completed its biannual review of programs supported by state funding. The council looked at the effectiveness of programs as well as the overall effects of drug and alcohol use in Oregon.

The scope of the problem that the council elucidated was tragic and frightening. The costs of addiction are staggering.

In the past 10 years, Oregon's prison population has gone up 128 percent for women and 60 percent for men, with 70 to 80 percent of people involved in the criminal justice system having problems related to alcohol or other drugs.

Methamphetamine is the primary drug of abuse for 63 percent of women and 43 percent of men receiving treatment in Oregon prisons.

Forty percent of traffic fatalities are alcohol-related.

A 45 percent increase in foster care has occurred in the last four years, (costing $3.8 million in 2004), with an increasing demand for foster care directly related to use of methamphetamine by parents.

Since 1992, there has been a 60 percent increase in liquor-licensed businesses, while the population increased by only 21 percent. Many businesses in Oregon are unable to hire enough workers because so few can pass employment drug tests.

In this environment of increasing drug use, there has been a consistent reduction in funding for treatment programs. Over the past four years, treatment access has been reduced by 18 percent. Alcohol and drug prevention activities in schools have decreased. Affordable housing for people and families in drug treatment is woefully inadequate.

The governor's council identified a clear downward spiral linked to the lack of treatment and misdirected priorities of legislative funding. They labeled this `The Domino Effect," which is the title of the council's report. The council outlines a lucid business plan for rebuilding substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery in our state. …

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