Politics

Oregon Senator Says Opioid Addicts Don’t Get Treatment, Pleads For More Funds

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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Only 1-in-10 people in the state receive treatment for their addiction to opioids, according to comments made by Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden Monday about a newly released report.

Speaking at a news conference sponsored by Lines for Life, a substance abuse and suicide prevention organization based in Portland, Wyden called for both sides of the aisle to help stop the opioid epidemic by getting people the help they need.

“Nobody is going to say, is there a Democratic strategy or a Republican strategy,” Wyden said, according to KATU2. “They’re going to say it’s time for Congress to get serious and do more than talk about this.”

Conducted by the Senate Committee on Finance, the report finds that the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA) passed in July lacks the teeth it needs.

“The bill was ‘comprehensive’ in name only; without funding, its policies are little more than empty promises,” the introduction reads.

Sen. Wyden wants an ample amount of funding because, as the assessment reads, “every day in the United States, 78 people die from an opioid overdose–more than one person every 20 minutes.”

The report studied opioid addiction in five states: Oregon, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. These are some of the states hit the hardest with heroin and opioid addiction.

Sen. Wyden’s home state of Oregon has the highest non-medical use of prescription painkillers. There were an average of 120,000 people in Oregon who suffered from opioid use disorder from 2010 to 2014. “To put that in perspective, that is nearly the entire population of Salem, the Oregon’s capital and third largest city,” the report reads.

The White House calls for a $920 million budget in order to specifically support state-based initiatives for “medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.” Oregon would get $11 million of that grant if passed in November.

“In 2016, federal spending is expected to be nearly $4 trillion. Comparatively, the White House request for $920 million over two years is a drop in the bucket,” the report suggests.

The concluding remark of the evaluation appeals to the pathos of the opioid and heroin crises.

“Every day Congress does not do so, another 78 people die waiting for someone to answer their call for help.”

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