Salem, OR—Governor Kate Brown has tasked Senior Policy Advisor Jeff Rhoades with leading a statewide effort to combat opioid abuse and dependency, she announced today. Rhoades will create a task force consisting of medical experts, drug treatment specialists, and government officials to identify and implement efforts to address the growing opioid misuse and abuse across the state.
“Oregon has one of the highest rates of prescription opioid misuse* in the nation, and we must take action," Governor Brown said. “Over the last few months, I've heard from Oregonians across the state that opioid use is affecting their lives at home and in their communities. It's clear that this crisis must be addressed, particularly in our rural communities where programming and access to treatment have been slashed due to insufficient resources.”
The task force will prioritize improving access to effective treatment, eliminating barriers to obtaining and administering drugs for opioid overdose, and building pathways for individuals to participate in drug courts in lieu of incarceration.
“Working in conjunction with our legislative partners, we have determined that this task force is the best course of action to act as quickly as possible to improve public health in Oregon and to help the individuals, families, and communities in need,” Governor Brown said.
*Editor note: whereas it is true that Oregon has a high opioid prescription rate, whether it is due to misuse is a judgment that has not been verified. On the contrary, Oregon has one of the lowest opioid overdose rates and is one of the few area of the country that has a decreasing overdose mortality.