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Reduce Harms Associated with Alcohol and Substance Use

Reducing harms associated with alcohol and substance use is one of seven priority areas from Oregon's State Health Improvement Plan. Progress is updated annually.

Progress Report for this Priority (2016)


Deaths associated with both prescription and non-prescription opioids (e.g. heroin) are among the leading causes of injury death in Oregon. The number of opioid-related deaths has markedly increased over the last 15 years. In 2012, Oregon had the highest rate of nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers in the nation. It is estimated the abuse of opioid analgesics results in more than $72 billion in national medical costs alone each year.

Excessive alcohol use has significant impacts on individual and family health and well-being, and affects broader social and economic issues such as public safety and worker productivity. Excessive alcohol use, including underage and binge drinking, can increase a person’s risk of developing serious health problems such as brain and liver damage, heart disease, cancer, fetal damage in pregnant women and premature death. It is a risk factor for injuries, violence, unintended pregnancy and motor vehicle crashes. In 2010, 1,546 Oregonians (39.7 per 100,000) died from alcohol-related causes, a 27% increase from alcohol-related deaths reported in 2001. The economic costs associated with excessive alcohol consumption in 2006 were estimated at $223.5 billion, or $1.90 a drink.

Key Strategies

Population interventions

  • Increase the price of alcohol by 10%
  • Reduce disincentives to report drug and alcohol overdoses

Health equity interventions

  • Reduce heroin overdose deaths among homeless youth

Health system interventions

  • Create incentives for private and public health plans and health care providers to prevent alcohol and substance use disorders
  • Reduce high risk prescribing
  • Increase the number of organizations that adopt screening and prescribing guidelines
  • Ensure public health plans cover evidence-based alternative pain management therapies for patients with chronic non-cancer pain and patients with a history of substance use disorder and mental health problems
  • Ensure availability of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder
  • Ensure public health plans cover comprehensive, barrier free, inpatient and outpatient services for alcohol use disorder
  • Reduce alcohol use around the time of pregnancy

Priority Targets

Measure Baseline Current Data 2020 Target Data Source
Prescription opioid mortality

4 deaths per 100,000


4.4 deaths per 100,000

(2015, preliminary)

<3 deaths per 100,000

Vital Statistics

Alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths


(2009-2013 average)




Oregon Department of Transportation

Measure status:Key: Green=on target, Yellow=some risk, Red=not on target, White=unknown

Related Resources from the Oregon Public Health Division

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