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Oregon Governor Declares Addiction, Substance Abuse Public Health Crisis

Ericka Cruz Guevarra/OPB
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signs two addiction-related bills and an executive order declaring addiction and substance abuse a public health crisis.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order Tuesday declaring addiction and substance abuse a public health crisis in the state.

The declaration comes the same day Brown signed two bills — HB 4134 and HB 4137 — both aimed at figuring out how to provide more drug and alcohol treatment to Oregonians. The related bills direct the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to create a statewide plan to tackle substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery.

Brown said the public health declaration has three goals: First, to raise public awareness about the challenges the state faces in dealing with opioid addiction and substance abuse. Brown also said the declaration marshals state resources to focus on the crisis and a frames the epidemic as a public health crisis as opposed to a criminal justice issue. On that point, Brown cast her declaration as a direct contrast to moves by the federal government, which she says has framed the crisis as a criminal justice issue.

Brown also said the substance abuse problem in Oregon is directly related to the state’s overwhelmed foster care system.

“We all know that addiction is blind to circumstance,” she said. “But its highest costs are borne by our children, whose parents are unable to care for them by struggling with addiction. It is the No. 1 driver of placements in our foster care system.”

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting