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Oregon Faces Epidemic Of Drug And Alcohol Abuse


Cam B. Strahm, an assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, shows an opioid overdose kit in Portland, Oregon, on Oct. 5, 2016, that he carries with him when he goes into the street. Strahm, the DEA's top agent in Oregon says that as an opioid epidemic sweeps the country and the state, he wants to be ready to save a life if someone collapses in front of him from an overdose. 

Cam B. Strahm, an assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, shows an opioid overdose kit in Portland, Oregon, on Oct. 5, 2016, that he carries with him when he goes into the street. Strahm, the DEA’s top agent in Oregon says that as an opioid epidemic sweeps the country and the state, he wants to be ready to save a life if someone collapses in front of him from an overdose. 

Andrew Selsky/AP

Oregon is facing an epidemic of alcohol and drug abuse, according to a new report released by the Oregon Substance Abuse Disorder Research Committee.

The report found that one out of every 10 Oregonians struggles with drugs or alcohol and that addiction costs the state about $6 billion a year in everything from policing to health care.

It also found that two of every three Oregonians either struggle with a substance abuse disorder or have a family member or friend who does.

“Substance abuse disorder is everywhere,” said lead author and retired anesthesiologist, Dr. Samuel Metz.

“It’s not just somebody else’s disease.”

Metz said the report looked at all aspects of addiction from mental health to policing, the criminal justice system and racism.

One of the report’s main recommendations is to treat abuse like a disease rather than a moral failing. “It does behave like a chronic medical disease,” said Metz. 

“It can’t be cured easily, but with medical attention it can be controlled. And that should be the goal of our intervention.”

The Portland City Club commissioned the report. But the club decided against releasing it because of the all-white composition of the committee.

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